Victim’s Words Come to Pass When Her Killer Is Sentenced to 101 Years

Times Staff Writer

A young woman whose diary entries told of her fear of her ex-boyfriend and helped convict the man of her murder were read in court again Friday as he was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.

“I swear to God that I hate Richard Namey,” Sarah Jane Rodriguez had scrawled on a scrap of paper days before she was shot to death. “I hope he goes to prison for life. He is just so very mean to me.”

Amid the applause, gasps and tears of her friends and family, the 21-year-old woman who was heading to Bible study with her new boyfriend when she was gunned down blocks from her Placentia home got her wish.


Richard Joseph Namey, 27, of Tustin was sentenced to 101 years to life in prison for killing Rodriguez and trying to kill her boyfriend. He will be eligible for parole in 85 years.

“Your violent conduct has created unspeakable loss to these families,” Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Toohey told Namey.

Namey appeared despondent as the woman’s chilling words and fears were read to the court. He took a long look at his parents when he entered the Santa Ana courtroom and waved to them when he was escorted out. Rodriguez’s friends pelted him with insults as he was led away.

As Rodriguez’s mother addressed him in court, describing how his actions have destroyed their lives, her voice dripped with disgust.

“What this ruthless coward did is unforgivable,” Martha Dewar said. “He is greedy and evil, with no respect for life.”

Namey was convicted in October of killing Rodriguez and shooting her boyfriend, Matthew Reid Corbett of Westminster, on April 16, 2003. The couple was driving home to have dinner before going to Bible class. Three days later, while on the run, Namey carjacked a minivan driver in Santa Ana and led law enforcement on a 42-mile chase before a police dog caught him hiding in a drainage pipe.

Rodriguez, a preschool teacher’s aide who had planned to become a graphic designer, dated Namey for about a year before reuniting with Corbett, her high school boyfriend, several months before her death. Namey was obsessed with the young woman, following her to work and school and calling her several times a day, according to testimony at the trial.

When he was arrested on suspicion of killing Rodriguez, he was on probation for convictions stemming from stalking another ex-girlfriend and assaulting his sister.

During the emotional sentencing Friday, Rodriguez’s parents and Corbett said they often see her in their dreams or believe they have spotted her face in a passing crowd.

“Wherever I go, I see Sarah,” said her father, Francisco Rodriguez. “By some miracle, I hope it’s Sarah, that God has brought her back. But my little girl is gone.”

Her mother talked about visiting her daughter’s grave to tell her about the children in the day-care center where she had worked. Her mother said her dreams of Sarah were never quite long enough, always ending just before they could talk.

Sobs and sniffles from the more than 25 people gathered to support Rodriguez at times drowned out portions of her parents’ statements. But all was quiet as prosecutor Dennis Conway pinned a high school graduation photo of Rodriguez onto a courtroom bulletin board.

“I want everyone to see my beautiful daughter,” Dewar said, turning to stare at Namey. “Someone took that away from her, away from us.”

Corbett, blind in one eye and confined to a wheelchair since the shooting, wore a T-shirt with a copy of a photograph that he and Rodriguez had posed for at their senior prom. The words “Always in My Heart” were printed across the top.

“I lost the only girl I could ever really talk to,” said Corbett, hunched in his wheelchair, his voice barely above a whisper. “I just miss Sarah. I’d give anything to have her here.”