WILKES-BARRE — Darnella Randolph called Thursday a day of “celebration” but also a sad day.
For the first time since her son, Trevor Oliver, died after being shot multiple times inside a Hutson Street, Wilkes-Barre, home, Randolph faced the killer, Robert Rodriguez.
“Today is the day I could stand here, it truly is my celebration but its a sad one today,” Randolph said inside a Luzerne Count Courtroom for Rodriguez’s sentencing hearing. “You have no idea the pain you caused my family.”
Assistant District Attorney Gregory S. Skibitsky Jr. said Rodriguez, 24, recruited Isaiah Tyrone Jennings, 21, to rob Oliver of drugs and cash on Feb. 7, 2018. Jennings also pleaded guilty to related charges at a second hearing later in the morning.
Rodriguez entered the house when Oliver’s girlfriend, Vanessa Batista, 40, opened the door. Batista was familiar with Rodriguez who once worked with Oliver.
After several minutes of talking, Rodriguez fired multiple rounds at Batista and turned the gun at Oliver, who was standing in the kitchen.
During the gunfire, Rodriguez told Jennings to shoot Oliver but instead, Oliver shot Rodriguez in the leg, court records say.
“You and your friend Isaiah took my son’s life,” Randolph told Rodriguez.
Oliver died several days later on Feb. 12, 2018, when Rodriguez and Jennings were arrested. Batista survived her injuries.
“Feb. 24 (2018), the day I had to look in the casket and say goodbye to my son. May God have mercy on your soul,” Randolph tearfully said.
Oliver’s father, James Randolph, was more direct saying Rodriguez knew exactly what he wanted to do when he shot Oliver and Batista.
“What you were doing, you went in there to kill,” James Randolph said. “You want forgiveness, you want to be let go…you sit in that jail cell and think about what you done. Enjoy your ride.”
Rodriguez, through his attorney, William Watt III, read a letter expressing his sorrow and how the incident has affected him personally.
“What I did was completely wrong. I replay the events over and over…I could say it was a product of my environment,” Watt read from Rodriguez’s letter noting Rodriguez claimed he grew up in a life that involved crime.
In asking for forgiveness, Rodriguez wrote, “to stand up like a man and not as a child I was once before.”
Rodriguez was also sentenced for shooting Lamont Garcia in the abdomen outside a barbershop on Parrish Street, Wilkes-Barre, on Feb. 2, 2018.
Rodriguez blamed Garcia for giving him a bad tattoo on his wrist, city police said. Rodriguez believed the tattoo was botched and infected.
“There is no forgiveness…” Garcia said in court. “He got caught. I don’t think he is a changed person.”
Garcia said he also grew up in an environment riddled with crime but he successfully completed college and owns two businesses.
Before the sentencing hearing as Rodriguez and Jennings were escorted by sheriff deputies into the courthouse, the victim’s family heckled them as they waited for an elevator in the courthouse basement. Deputies forced the families back several feet.
Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. sentenced Rodriguez to 23-to-51 years in state prison on charges of third-degree murder and criminal attempt to commit aggravated assault, and a consecutive term of 21 months to six years for shooting Garcia, totaling 24 years, nine months to 57 years in state prison.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to the charges in March.
Shortly after Rodriguez’s sentencing, Jennings pleaded guilty to his involvement in the crimes, entering guilty pleas on one count each of third degree murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault through his attorney, Bernard Brown.
Sklarosky scheduled Jennings’ sentence for Sept. 2. He’ll be sent back to the county lockup to await his sentencing.
Isaiah Jennings, left, and Robert Rodriguez are escorted in the Luzerne County Courthouse Thursday morning.