Northampton woman arraigned on charges in Daniel Cruz murder

  • Chelsea T. Rodriguez of Northampton. COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY CORRECTIONS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/25/2019 1:56:04 PM

NORTHAMPTON – A Northampton woman was arraigned Friday on charges related to the murder of Daniel Cruz after she was extradited from Florida this week. 

Chelsea Rodriguez, 22, of Northampton, pleaded not guilty in Hampshire Superior Court on charges of accessory after the fact to murder, burning personal property, two counts of conspiracy, two counts of withholding evidence from criminal proceeding and improper disposition of a human body. She is the eighth defendant to face charges in connection with the case and was represented by Marissa Elkins, a court-appointed lawyer. 

Rodriguez was arraigned before Judge Daniel Ford who set bail at $250,000 without prejudice. 

The state alleges that Nerkin Omar Morales, 22, shot Cruz, 44, of Northampton, on March 10, 2018, at the Meadowbrook Apartments in Northampton after Morales intervened in an argument between Cruz and Pedro J. Soto-Rodriguez, 21, of Northampton. Others allegedly helped Morales and Soto-Rodriguez cover up the crime, prosecutors say. Cruz’s body was later found burned in a field in Hatfield. Morales is the only defendant facing a murder charge and he was earlier arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder. 

Rodriguez was arrested in DeLand, Florida on Dec. 6 and was held without bond in a correctional facility in Daytona Beach. On Jan. 24, she was extradited from Florida and transported by Massachusetts State Police troopers, according to the Northwestern District Attorney's Office. 

Rodriguez is scheduled to appear in court again on Monday at 9 a.m. for a bail hearing and a hearing on a protective order. She is the final defendant to be arraigned in connection to Cruz’s murder, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office said. Others charged in connection with the case are Matthew M. Ross, Alondra E. Gil, Joshua T. Ealy, Mercedes N. Diaz-Wright, all of Northampton, and Kimberley A. Perez of Springfield. 

“We now transition to the process of moving these cases through the court system with the continued goal of seeking justice for Daniel Cruz and his family,” Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl, the prosecutor in court Friday, said in a statement. 

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com




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