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Jury convicts man in 1995 cold case murder in Burley

| May 27, 2021 2:25 AM

TWIN FALLS — An Idaho man has been convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of a 14-year-old girl, who disappeared from her basement bedroom in 1995.

A jury found Gilberto Flores Rodriguez guilty on Tuesday of killing Regina Krieger after deliberating for less than four hours, The Times-News reported.

The Times-News reported in April 1995 that horseback riders found the girl's decomposed body near a bridge near the small city of Rupert.

Authorities said she had a slash wound across her throat and had been stabbed in the heart. Her body was found about two months after she disappeared from her home in Burley, about 10 miles away from Rupert, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Rodriguez was charged in 2019. His attorney Keith Roark told the jury during closing arguments this week that the case was based on the testimony of “liars,” and asked the jurors “which story should they believe after the state’s witnesses gave inconsistent statements to police over the years.”

Roark said one of the state's top witnesses, prison inmate Cody Thompson, said he was 16 years old and Rodriguez was 32 years old when Rodriguez asked him to help get rid of Krieger's body.

Thompson allegedly said he told lies to police, changed his story and committed perjury in court in another case, which Roark used to claim the state presented “a bunch of lies by jailhouse snitches.”

Cassia County Prosecutor McCord Larsen said Thompson was a teenager when the murder occurred, did not have good experiences with law enforcement and was intimidated and frightened of Rodriguez.

During closing arguments, Larsen asked the jurors to use “their common sense and their judgment to figure out who is telling the truth.”

Roark also pointed out mistakes made by police over the years, including DNA evidence collected from Krieger’s body, which was tested and compared to Rodriguez’s ago, and did not match. He also noted said that heavy objects she was hit with and a knife used to cause some of her injuries were never found.

“The only real physical evidence they have doesn’t incriminate this man, it exonerates him,” Roark said.

Larsen and Regina Krieger’s mother, Rhonda Hunnel, declined to comment on the verdict until after the sentencing hearing, which is set to be held in about three months.

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