WASHINGTON — 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.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office countered that Rodriguez could not appeal her sentence as excessive since she didn’t raise that issue in her first appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, the attorney general said, the high court previously upheld a sentence of 25 years to life for a man who shoplifted three golf clubs because of the man’s previous record.
“Likewise, in this case, the gravity of the offense was not merely the crime of stealing two purses, but included the 28 prior convictions committed by” Rodriguez, the state attorney argued.
The judge who sentenced her called her a one-person crime wave.
Family members said at the time that she stole to support a heroin habit.
In regard to the claim that her sentence resulted from ineffective defense, the attorney general’s office said Rodriguez knew what she was doing when she entered a plea allowing the judge to set the sentence.
Rodriguez, 61, is serving her sentence at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud.
She may be eligible for parole after serving 15 years of the sentence, according to a legal filing in the case.