State: Rodriguez helped 'execute' teens found on Cady Way Trail

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Rodriguez helped 'execute' teens found on Cady Way Trail, prosecutors say

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  • Plea deal struck in Cady Way Trail slayings

    Plea deal struck in Cady Way Trail slayings

    Thursday, December 6 2012 7:56 AM EST2012-12-06 12:56:58 GMT
    One of two men accused of murdering a couple of Winter Park High School students earlier this year pleaded guilty on Friday.
    One of two men accused of murdering a couple of Winter Park High School students earlier this year pleaded guilty on Friday.
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Hector Rodriguez helped "execute" two Winter Park High students and left their burned bodies along the Cady Way Trail, prosecutors said during opening statements Wednesday in Rodriguez's murder trial.

Jurors in an Orange County courtroom were presented with grisly photos of the crime scene, where the bodies of Jeremy Stewart, 18, and Nicholas Presha, 16, were found in April 2012.

The state's first witness Wednesday was the bicyclist who found the teens' burning bodies along the popular Orange County trail. Brian Larson told the jury he was unsure whether the bodies were real or just parts of mannequins.

Another cyclist called to the stand testified the teens' bodies were very close to each other in a "spooning" position.

Jurors also heard from an Orange County firefighter and a crime scene investigator.

Investigators say Presha and Stewart were trying to sell a gun to Rodriguez and an accomplice, Jesse Davis, hours before they were killed. The teens were robbed, stripped, executed and burned, they say.

Nicholas Presha's father, Bernie, also took the stand.  He said on April 14, he kissed his son just before bedtime.  He had no idea his son had left the house during the night.

"We called him down for breakfast and he didn't answer. When I went up to his bedroom he was not there," he said.

The state also called on Jonathon Tischer, who is presently serving time in jail.  He said he was at the house on the day the boys tried to sell Davis guns, but he said he left shortly after.  He told jurors that the day after the boys were killed, Rodriguez told him a different story.

"He told me verbatim that she shot them in the back of the head execution style and set the bodies on fire," said Tischer.

The defense pointed out that Tischer is in jail and looking to get a lesser sentence for his alleged crimes, and that he never called police.  Tischer said he didn't know what to do.

"I couldn't believe it I was shocked. I didn't think they were going to do anything like that," he said.

Davis is expected to testify in Rodriguez's trial. Prosecutors have warned the jury not to trust Davis, whom they accuse of lying during a confession and misstating facts to reduce Rodriguez's role in the killings.

Rodriguez unexpectedly rejected a plea deal last week that would have seen him out of prison in 30 years. During the hearing, he argued with his lawyers and asked for new ones.

Davis is serving life in prison after pleading guilty to the teens' deaths in November 2012.

Rodriguez faces six life sentences if convicted of the first-degree murder charges. Testimony in his trial resumes today.

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