Luis R. Rondon, former King of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s East Kingdom, was expelled from the Society a year ago this month after his arrest in connection with the murder of Deborah Waldsinger.
Rondon’s attorneys entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, felonies; and misdemeanor weapon possession this past November.
Prosecutors believe Rondon used a framing hammer to beat 32-year-old Deborah Waldinger to death on October 7, 2019. He then traveled to California to attend the Great Western War sponsored by the Kingdom of Caid, a regional chapter of the SCA, and was arrested by Taft (CA) police on October 11 at the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area where the event was in progress. He was extradited to New York.
The victim, Deborah Waldinger, was also active in the SCA, as well as in the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia.
Since then, defense attorney Dennis J. Ring has filed motions trying to free his client on technical grounds, or convince the court to rule out some of the evidence the prosecution wants to present at trial.
In June, Judge Craig Brown of the Orange County (NY) court handed down rulings on eight of these motions.
Ring’s first motion asked the court to dismiss the indictment due to alleged defects in the Grand Jury proceedings. These included a claim that witness testimony stating Rondon was having an extramarital affair with Waldinger should not have been permitted:
Regarding testimony, the defendant takes exception to the People’s inclusion as a witness April Cruz, the co-worker of the deceased victim, characterizing the same as impermissible hearsay testimony for which no legally cognizable exception applies. The defendant states that the witness’s testimony was “highly inflammatory” because it related to an extramarital affair that defendant was allegedly having with the victim. Over the course of four days, the People presented fifteen witnesses, who testified as to their personal knowledge of the case as well as, where appropriate, their professional experiences in the fields of criminal investigation and forensic pathology.
… In opposition, the People …argue that their inclusion of the homicide victim’s statements to her co-worker were both appropriate and probative of her state of mind (specifically, that her intent to end the extramarital relationship with defendant and thus, by extrapolation, the defendant’s motive to kill her).
Judge Brown said in his decision that the court found no defects in the indictment.
The court did grant the defendant’s motion for the release of all transcripts of the testimony of persons who testified before the Grand Jury.
The court rejected additional claims that the Grand Jury procedure was defective, saying: “[The] Court finds that the People properly instructed the Grand Jury on the law and only permitted those grand jurors who heard all the evidence to vote on the matter… Those nineteen Grand Jurors then deliberated and voted 19-0 to indict defendant on all three counts of the Indictment.”
A motion to suppress the defendant’s statements to law enforcement was granted to the extent that a hearing was ordered to determine the admissibility of statements allegedly made by the defendant.
Likewise, the ruling on another motion, “to suppress the use of any evidence obtained as the result of a nonconsensual seizure of his cellular telephone on October 10, 2019 in Bakersfield, California by a New Windsor police detective” was deferred until a hearing could determine the admissibility of physical evidence allegedly obtained from the defendant.
The court ruled against defendant’s motion to suppress physical evidence obtained through multiple search warrants, which the judge found were based upon probable cause and supported by appropriate affidavits.
The defense’s motion to preclude the cross-examination of the defendant as to prior bad acts was granted to the extent that a hearing will be held immediately prior to trial “to determine which, if any, bad acts or convictions may be used as impeachment in the event that the defendant elects to testify at trial or as substantive proof of any material issue in the case…”
The court granted three other motions, to compel the District Attorney to provide the defense with any exculpatory evidence, ordering the mutual sharing of outstanding discovery material, and allowing the defense to file further motions as provided under the law.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for October 23.