DEDHAM ― Two men admitted to killing 19-year-old Reina Rodriguez in 2017 in a Braintree hotel room, pleading guilty to manslaughter charges.
Norfolk Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone sentenced Kenyonte Galmore, 27, to 18 to 20 years in state prison, while Kentavious Coleman received seven years in prison. Both men are from Mississippi and were credited with the time they spent in jail awaiting trial.
The sentences had been recommended by prosecutors and defense lawyers as part of a plea deal that was accepted by Cannone. Both men had been charged with first-degree murder. Other charges against the men ― unarmed robbery, kidnapping and conspiracy ― were dismissed.
The pleas came after a jury had been selected and a trial was set to start Friday morning.
Cannone asked both men if they changed their plea because they knew they were guilty and for no other reason.
Both men replies were the same. "Yes, ma'am."
Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey his office agreed to the plea based on factors including the strength and state of the available evidence.
"If Galmore had been convicted of second degree murder, he would have been parole-eligible after 15 years," Morrissey said in a statement. "In this structured plea, he will serve a minimum of 18 years. Securing homicide convictions via plea changes eclipses any chance of either man avoiding culpability through acquittal. It also precludes the case being turned on appeal ― and gives some finality to the family."
Rodriguez, a Lowell resident, was found in Room 220 of the Hyatt Place hotel on Forbes Road the morning of June 22, 2017. She was naked from the waist up and her arms and legs were bound with cellphone cords.. Her purse had been emptied and no valuables had been left in the room, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Lisa Beatty told the court.
A state medical examiner ruled that Rodriguez was killed by suffocation.
Tests on blood stains found in the room on the bed, one of the cords and Rodriguez's body were traced to Galmore, she said.
Both Galmore and Coleman were seen and recorded on video entering and leaving the hotel, and cell phone records placed them in the area at the time, Beatty said.
A third defendant, Juana Rivera, 24, of Lawrence is also faces murder and other charges in the case. She allegedly recruited Rodriguez for sex work in late 2016 and set her up to be robbed that night. Rivera was in the hotel parking lot while Galmore and Coleman were inside, investigators said.
The case against Rivera is pending.
Galmore was represented by Joseph Krowski Jr. of Brockton and Coleman by Timothy Bradl of Boston.
Beatty read a victim impact statement from Marcos Rodriguez, Renia's father.
He remembered holding his daughter the day she was born. "I will never hold her again," he wrote.
Through tears, Renina's sister Sygrid Rachad described her as having "the biggest heart I've ever known."
"We have all lost so much, but we've gained an angel," Rachad said. "Rest in peace, Reina."
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Reach Fred Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Two defendants in 2017 killing in Braintree plead to manslaughter