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Inmate Who Held Jailer as Hostage Gets Life

An inmate convicted of holding a corrections officer hostage for 17 hours in the downtown San Diego federal prison was sentenced Monday to a life term.

The life sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge William Enright to Jose Rodriguez-Rodriguez, 34, will run consecutively with the 23-year, 10-month term Rodriguez is to serve on a cocaine conspiracy conviction.

Rodriguez, also known as Ramon Alvarez, was convicted Sept. 25 of kidnaping Donnie Houston, 30, and holding him hostage in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The jury also convicted him of trying to escape from the prison.

The trial of a co-defendant, Emilio Bravo, 33, also known as Ernesto Cruz, will begin in late January.

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Rodriguez was sentenced amid tight security in the courtroom with extra deputy marshals present. He had chains around his waist and feet, and a deputy marshal held the waist chain during the sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Maria Arroyo-Tabin said Rodriguez subjected Houston to “beatings, kickings and unlawful abuse.”

The corrections officer and his wife watched the sentencing. Houston was rescued by SWAT officers last Dec. 18, after he was stabbed in the chest.

Rodriguez made a brief statement in court, saying that “nobody’s perfect,” after the prosecutor recited some of the conduct in the 17-hour siege. Enright noted that the victim was “still recovering” from the ordeal.

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“His life hung in the balance all the time he was with you,” said the judge. “What you did with Mr. Bravo is indefensible and puts you in the category of this very severe sentence.”


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