NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — The case against a Niagara Falls man accused of raping, kidnapping and stabbing a woman at his home is now being dropped. The decision to dismiss, according to the Niagara County District Attorney's Office, is because the victim at the center of the case has died.
"We felt very strongly given the facts of this case and the defendants prior criminal history that this was a very important case to take to court," said Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek, "If I don't have a witness who holds the bulk of our evidence against this defendant and they can't be cross examined in a court of law because she's passed away, yes, he goes without having to face these charges."
It was back in February of 2019, when the victim told police she was held hostage, raped and then stabbed repeatedly by Eduardo Rodriguez. Niagara Falls Police say she managed to escape from the home and walk bleeding to the nearby Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, which is about ten houses away.
The District Attorney's Office will not say how the woman died, but say the cause is not related to the case. Prosecutors did not have enough evidence to proceed with an evidence-based case. The victim was considered their key witness and without her testimony the prosecution could not go to trial.
"In this case we did not have the evidence to substantiate this case indictment or at trial with the evidence we have left without her testimony," Wojtaszek said.
"If there are no statements that are admissible, if there's no physical evidence tying him to her, not having her available to testify... what's left?" said legal expert Florina Altshiler.
The DA said the public should be concerned.
"I would be very concerned. He has a violent history," said Wojtaszek.
But Altshiler said Rodriguez can still end up in police custody.
"I think it's likely they will get him on another charge," said Altshiler, "If people are predators, they get away with it for some time but eventually they don't get away with it anymore."
That could happen to Rodriguez with the DA citing his possible connection to a separate rape case dating back to 2014.
"Should we investigate the case that has a cold hit right now and we can substantiate that with admissible evidence we will certainly take that as seriously as we took this case," said Wojtaszek.
According to the Niagara County Sheriff's website, Rodriguez is still in custody.