Man pleads guilty to murder of 79-year-old Celestino Rodriguez

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 5:39 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 7:09 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock man has pleaded guilty to the 2019 murder of 79-year-old Celestino Rodriguez.

Seven people in total were involved in the 79-year-old man’s murder, including David Wayne Hampton, 57. Hampton pleaded guilty to the murder in a Lubbock County courtroom on Wednesday.

On Aug. 3, 2019, Rodriguez was reported missing to police. According to court records, he was lured to a remote location by Heather Casias, who was aware he would be receiving a check from the government. Two other individuals, David Hampton and Brett Garza, were waiting at the location. Police stated the two men ambushed the 79-year-old and beat him to death before stealing his belongings, including his wallet and car.

After a Silver Alert was issued for Rodriguez, police arrested two other individuals: Toby Daughtry and Amanda Blagburn. The two told investigators they had been driving Rodriguez’s car, but abandoned it in Temple after seeing the Silver Alert. They stated Hampton gave them the vehicle the day after Rodriguez was reported missing. They were both charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Police questioned Casias about his disappearance. During the interview, she said she spoke with Hampton and Garza, suggesting his body be moved.

Two other people helped Garza move Rodriguez’s body: James Anderson and Freddie Salinas. Investigators said they moved Rodriguez from a cotton field in west Lubbock County to a field in Abernathy. Police found him two weeks later.

Hampton and Garza reportedly spent over $1,000 with Rodriguez’s stolen credit card. They were both arrested and charged with credit card fraud. After further investigation, they were also charged with murder.

Hampton was first put on trial in 2022, however a mistrial was declared. Witnesses made “improper statements” during their testimony, resulting in the mistrial.

On Wednesday, Hampton pleaded guilty to Rodriguez’s murder. He submitted an open plea, meaning he has pleaded guilty without a plea deal in place.

Instead of a jury trial, Rodriguez’s case will now be heard by Judge John “Trey” McClendon III of the 137th District Court. After hearing evidence and testimony, McClendon will decide Hampton’s punishment.

The punishment phase of the trial began on Monday, Sept. 25.