Union-Bulletin Court Report

A College Place man pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault in a 2016 homicide.

In a plea bargain with prosecutors, Robert G. Sregzinski, 22, entered the pleas and Judge John Lohrmann dismissed the remaining seven counts against him, and scheduled his sentencing for June 17.

Sregzinski faces at least 17.5 years in prison, and his sentence could stretch beyond 30 years, at a judge’s discretion. His sentence in Washington may run consecutively to another in Oregon, also depending on a judge’s decision.

In 2016, Sregzinksi was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Umatilla County for attempting to elude a police vehicle, attempted murder with a firearm, three counts of menacing, and three counts of unlawful firearm use, according to Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle.

Sregzenski was charged in 2017 with first-degree murder and unlawful firearm possession in connection with Gabriel L. Rodriguez’s death. In March, prosecutors amended the charges to first-degree attempted robbery while armed with a firearm, first-degree assault while armed with a firearm, reckless endangerment, two counts of intimidating a witness while armed with a firearm, second-degree murder while armed with a firearm, and unauthorized removal or concealment of a body. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on April 23, 2018, and in March, respectively.

Walla Walla police said he shot and killed Rodriguez, 34, in a Walla Walla apartment over a drug debt.

On April 21, 2016, Sregzinski apparently went to a basement apartment at 1589 E. Alder St. armed with a shotgun and handgun. He told one of two people at the apartment to call Rodriguez to the residence while he hid in the apartment. After Rodriguez arrived and took a shower, Sregzinski confronted him and told him to sit. Rodriguez refused, according to documents, and Sregzinski shot him at close range with the shotgun.

Sregzinski and the witnesses went to Trailer Haven on Isaacs Avenue, where Sregzinski spoke to someone in a trailer, and to an apartment in Milton-Freewater, where Sregzinski and a witness spoke to another person on the phone. They left sometime the next morning, according to documents. On the way back to the crime scene, they picked up the person they had spoken with on the phone on Old Milton HIghway, near Crockett Road. The two original witnesses were dropped off at a woman’s home, records stated.

Sregzinski then cut the carpet and carpet padding where Rodriguez was lying, rolled him up in it, and tied it with duct tape, rope and electrical cords. He and one of the witnesses put the body in the back seat of his vehicle, records stated.

Sregzinski drove to a family member’s home in Milton-Freewater, and the family member helped dispose of the body on Cache Hollow Road, southeast of Milton-Freewater.

On April 28, 2016, Sregzinski apparently shot at Milton-Freewater police officers during a traffic stop and pursuit, and was struck when officers fired, records stated. He was taken to Providence St. Mary Medical Center and arrested on a juvenile warrant.

At Walla Walla County Jail, he bragged to a fellow inmate about the killing, records stated, and included details about the crime.

On May 27, 2016, detectives located Rodriguez’s body and he was identified the next day based on his tattoos.

Sregzinski had five felony convictions from 2014 and another from 2015, so was not allowed to possess a firearm, records stated.

He has been at the Walla Walla County Jail pending the outcome of this case, Nagle said.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.

Recommended for you