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Couple given 45 years in murder

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 10:55 PM

Their plan was as twisted as it was tragic: I'll invite my ex-boyfriend over for sex; you jump out from behind a tree with an ice pick.

The killing - delivered with five blows to the back, eight to the chest - led a Montgomery County judge on Thursday to sentence a husband and wife each to 45 years in prison.

"Let me ask you a question, if I can," Judge Joseph Dugan said to the husband, Moises Rodriguez, probing for some kind of explanation. "How did you get past the fact that you were going to take the life of a good, hardworking man that had a little girl that needed a daddy? When you were hiding behind that tree, about to do what you did, did you not think of any of that stuff?"

Rodriguez, who turns 21 Friday, told the judge he was manipulated by his wife, 23, and that he wanted only to hurt the ex-boyfriend, not kill him.

If so, Dugan asked, why not stop after the first strike? "You could have gone, 'My God, I just put an ice pick in this guy,' " the judge said.

Speaking to the wife, Maria Blanco, Dugan wondered how she could hatch a plan that had her hugging and kissing the ex-boyfriend upon his arrival so that he was defenseless when the attack came. "No normal person can comprehend how somebody can do that," Dugan said.

Samuel Chacon was killed Nov. 17, 2009, near Newton Street in the Wheaton area.

When she was questioned by detectives in the days after the murder, Blanco said Chacon had raped her, implying that that motivated the killing. Dugan dismissed the assertion, saying that there that was no evidence indicating Chacon, a truck driver, had raped her. Dugan said Chacon represented the kind of immigrant success story the country has always embraced.

"I don't believe it for one second," Dugan said.

The remark heartened Chacon's family members, who had packed one side of courtroom. A fun-loving 34-year-old, Chacon gave money to family members, helped them with home and car repairs, and took them fishing in the Chesapeake Bay on his boat, they said.

"I really miss him," Jose Chacon, his brother, said afterward. "And I'm going to miss him for the rest of my life."

The two defendants met at church, where Blanco told Rodriguez, "You're going to be mine, whether you like it our not," according to Raquel Machado, a cousin of Rodriguez. The couple quietly got married, something Rodriguez's family didn't know until after the killing, Machado said.

It was his first time in love, Machado said, and he shut off all family members and was manipulated by Blanco. Prosecutors shared this view.

They also said said the wife was motivated by a child-custody battle with the ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend had accused her of assaulting the toddler they had together and had been awarded full custody of the child by a judge, according to prosecutors.

Dugan played down Blanco's manipulation of her young husband, noting Rodriguez was the one who did the stabbing. "She's not a witch. She didn't cast a spell over you, did she?" Dugan asked.

The couple is going through a divorce, according to documents filed in court that they filled out behind bars. At Thursday's hearing, Rodriguez and Blanco sat 10 feet apart, separated by their attorneys, and didn't appear to look at or speak to each other.

Neither is likely to serve a full 45 years. Under Maryland rules, they can collect credits if they behave and work behind bars and could be out after 32 or 33 years, according to prison officials.

Rodriguez had entered into a plea deal that guaranteed he'd get no more than 45 years. Blanco didn't get such a deal and could have gotten a longer sentence. But Dugan indicated from the bench he didn't want to impose different sentences.

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