Armona man facing drug, sex crimes in court

KINGS COUTY, Calif.

The 32-year-old Armona man was read some of the 23-felony charges he faces. The district attorney's office says some of the counts are unusual, and if convicted he could spend decades in prison.

This exclusive Action News video shows Michael Rodriguez rocking back and forth as his newly-appointed attorney entered a "not guilty" plea on his behalf. Rodriguez faces 23 felony charges and one misdemeanor for putting several girls through what the Kings County Sheriff's Office is calling "a night of terror."

Kings County Prosecutor, Jim Jahn said, "Child endangerment, furnishing drugs to a child, we've charged criminal threats, we've charged kidnapping and false imprisonment."

Authorities say on Monday night, the 32-year-old held hostage four girls ages 14 through 16. A 9-year-old girl was also in the house at the time but was sleeping. She's still considered a victim.

Kings County Sheriff's investigators say the four girls were forced to ingest methamphetamine. Three of them were sexually assaulted.

In a criminal complaint filed by the district attorney's office, prosecutors say Rodriguez also threatened to kill or cause great harm to the girls.

Rodriguez was eventually arrested after the girls ran out of the house on Tuesday morning, screaming for help.

Prosecutors have also charged Rodriguez with animal cruelty, for killing a pet during a fit of rage that night.

Jahn said, "We've charged him with killing a hamster by crushing it in his hand."

Rodriguez's attorney, Michael Woodbury, talked to his client after the court proceedings to make sure he understood all the charges against him. "I would say he's pretty scared, pretty nervous."

The district attorney's office says one of those felony charges, forcing a minor to take drugs, is rarely filed in Kings County.

Jahn added, "Wouldn't you say it's disturbing charges for anyone to see? He's looking at a substantial amount of time should he be convicted."

If convicted on all the charges, Rodriguez is facing at least 20 years in prison. He'll back in court next Monday for more trial proceedings.

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