U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeal of Oklahoma shoplifter serving life sentence

High court justices decline to review the case of an Oklahoma City woman who was given a life sentence for stealing two purses because of her many previous crimes.
by Chris Casteel Published: March 10, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to review the case of an Oklahoma City woman who received a life sentence in 2009 for shoplifting.

Without comment, the court rejected the appeal of Cecilia Cathleen Rodriguez, whose life sentence was imposed by an Oklahoma County judge because of a long list of previous convictions.

Rodriguez’s appeal was her second to the high court; in 2012, the justices sent the case back to Oklahoma and ordered a review of whether she had received adequate legal assistance when she entered a “blind plea” to charges of stealing two purses from a Dillard’s department store.

An Oklahoma County judge ruled that Rodriguez understood when she rejected a plea agreement of 17 years in prison that she could receive a sentence ranging from four years to life.

Her attorney explained that to her while also trying to negotiate with Oklahoma County prosecutors for a better deal, the judge ruled.

The judge said he also explained to Rodriguez that entering a blind plea meant she was leaving her sentence to the judge’s discretion.

Rodriguez asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review her case a second time, claiming that the sentence was excessive and her lawyer ineffective.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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