A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (May 11) found Kenny Rojas guilty of fatally shooting his estranged girlfriend during an argument before he fled, leaving their three young children in their Harvey home with their dying mother.
Rojas, 38, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Lizeth Maldonado, 32, who died Feb. 27, 2022, in the bedroom of her home in the 1200 block of Angus Drive. He also was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice, for getting rid of the revolver he used to commit the murder.
During the argument, in which Rojas accused Maldonado of having an affair, he pressed the barrel of his revolver against her left breast and fired one bullet. Their 12-year-old daughter was bathing when she heard the gunshot.
The child ran to the bedroom and saw her father shooting and pointing the pistol at her mother. She heard her mother say, “He killed me.”
Rojas told his daughter to call 911 and fled, leaving the child and her younger brothers, ages seven and eight, alone in the residence.
The 911 operator instructed the 12-year-old girl to perform CPR on her mother and to apply direct pressure to the bullet wound to slow the bleeding. As one of her brothers wailed in the background, the child performed the lifesaving tasks on her mother until the first Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy arrived. Her mother died on the bedroom floor, just over 10 minutes after she called 911.
Immediately after he shot Maldonado, Rojas drove to Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego. It was there that members of his family met him and drove him away.
About six hours later, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from a relative of Rojas’, saying he wanted to turn himself in. Deputies arrested Rojas at a Terrytown residence. Before his arrest, Rojas admitted to numerous family members that he shot Maldonado.
His daughter told detectives and a forensic child abuse interviewer that he shot her mother.
During trial, Rojas’ attorneys suggested that Maldonado’s family influenced her daughter’s saying that her father shot her mother. They also argued that Maldonado held the gun and pointed it at their client and then at herself. They asserted that their client tried to disarm Maldonado, and during the tussle, the bullet was fired.
However, based on the location of the bullet wound and the angle the bullet followed through her body, the defense theory is unlikely, according to the forensic pathologist.
The jury deliberated about one hour and 15 minutes before returning with its verdicts. Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Rojas on Tuesday (May 16).
Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Leo Aaron prosecuted the case.
NOTE: This post was updated on May 16, 2023, to correct Ms. Maldonado’s age.