Lancaster man convicted in 2004 murder gets no relief

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A Lancaster man convicted of a 2004 murder will get no relief from his life sentence.

In his latest appeal, Andy Rivera-Rodriguez argued that he was not eligible for the death penalty, citing a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bans the execution of those with intellectual disabilities. Rivera-Rodriguez claimed that his trial counsel was ineffective for advising him to agree to a nonjury trial.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied the appeal, finding that Rivera-Rodriguez did not meet the standard for intellectual disability it was not unreasonable for counsel to advise Rivera-Rodriguez to accept the Commonwealth’s offer.

Authorities say Rivera-Rodriguez was 21 when he and Esteban Torres-Sanchez robbed and then fatally stabbed 22-year-old Ryan Gardina in a Lancaster city alley.

Rivera-Rodriguez, now 35, and Torres-Sanchez plotted the murder while in Gardina’s car. Gardina fled an initial stabbing in an alley off South Queen Street but was caught and held down by Rivera-Rodriguez. The pair stole a total of $10 from Gardina

Police found Rivera-Rodriguez and Torres-Sanchez in Gardina’s car after his body was found in the alley off South Queen Street, near Torres-Sanchez’s home.

Rivera-Rodriguez was convicted of first-degree murder and related charges and sentenced to life in prison, plus 23 to 46 years.

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