Man who Fresno police say held a screwdriver to woman's throat faces judge

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The man who Fresno police say broke into a home and threatened a woman by putting a screwdriver to her throat faced a judge Thursday.

Abel Rodriguez is in segregation in the Fresno County jail because of his gang status. He was much more subdued in court when he entered a not guilty plea. One legal analyst says the case against him already, is strong.

Rodriguez appeared calm Thursday afternoon when a public defender made his initial plea. It was a far different scene from earlier this week, when Fresno police cornered the wanted parolee, hopping from rooftop to rooftop.

Legal Analyst Mark Coleman says attorneys representing Rodriguez will have some obstacles to overcome from the start.

"The character of the eyewitness testimony," said Coleman. "It looks like she positively identified him. That's very hard to beat, eyewitnesses are very convincing. The second thing that's very important is his acts after leaving, which is running from rooftop to rooftop."

Moments after Rodriguez was arrested, the victim spoke to Action News about the struggle inside her home, as she tried to break free.

"He threw me against a mirror we had in that room and it broke," said the victim, Gloria Perez. "And then he got behind me, he had me in a choke hold with a screwdriver pointed against my neck."

Coleman says the aggravating factors, prior violent criminal convictions and gang involvement will be additional issues the attorney who represents Rodriguez will have to confront. The other thing is the character of the act, that he held a screwdriver to her neck, threatened her. And in addition to that, he threatened to come back if she testified against him and kill her after he got out of jail. That's an additional crime.

Based on the current charges, and his prior criminal past, the suspect is eligible to serve 13 years or even longer if convicted. It is unclear at this point if Rodriguez was under the influence of drugs or alcohol on Monday. He was originally wanted on a warrant for car theft.

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.