An arrest affidavit issued by Justice of the Peace Billy Ball offers insight into the capital murder case lodged against Michael Eric Rodriguez, 28, who is charged in the slaying of Lufkin residents Carol Price and Cecil Sheffield.
Rodriguez was arrested by Lufkin police Sept. 18 after testimony from co-workers and family and the discovery of what police believe to be the murder weapons placed Rodriguez under suspicion, according to the arrest affidavit. The affidavit, compiled by Det. Chris Carroll, includes details related to Carroll by three other Lufkin police officers or detectives.
On the afternoon of Sept. 16, Price's daugher Alishia Burse returned home from getting her hair done. She had been at the home earlier and paid a lawn crew of three men to cut the grass, according to the affidavit.
She returned to find her ex-stepfather, Sheffield, unconscious and “laying in blood with blood everywhere," the affidavit states. She called the police and backed out of the home to wait for the police to arrive.
Police were dispatched at 1:53 p.m. and found no pulse on Sheffield before seeing Price lying on the floor a few feet from him, according to the affidavit.
“Both individuals were apparently severely beaten,” the affidavit states.
The affidavit lists the injuries on Price as including blunt force trauma to the head with a hammer or other similar tool. It lists the injuries to Sheffield as blunt force trauma to his face and head with tools, specifically metal hedge trimmers.
Rodriguez and two other men, Kethan Buckley and Damien Bean, were performing yard work at Price's home some time after 10 a.m. Sept. 16, according to the affidavit.
Police identified and met with Buckley first, who told police the three had gone to work together. Buckley mowed the front yard while Bean and Rodriguez worked in the backyard. Bean told police Buckley left shortly after the three began working because one of the lawn mower tires was flat and he could not mow until it was fixed, the affidavit states.
Buckley allowed police to search his pickup truck; they reportedly found a bloody claw hammer hidden beneath a pile of grass clippings and branches police thought looked “odd” in the truck bed. Underneath an orange traffic cone, police found a wood dowel rod with possible blood on it and tape wrapped around the end to create a handle, the affidavit states.
Buckley told police Rodriguez and Bean took his yellow hedge trimmers when he dropped them off because Rodriguez told him he had bent the trimmers and wanted to fix them, according to the affidavit. Buckley also told police he purchased orange shirts for the other two men.
Police made contact with Bean and noticed what they believed to be blood on his shorts, the affidavit states. He was taken into custody and interviewed at the Lufkin Police Department.
Bean told police Rodriguez and Buckley picked him up in front of "the gambling shack" on Kurth Drive and went straight to Price’s home, the affidavit states.
He said at some point, an older lady he believed to be the homeowner went outside while Rodriguez and Bean were looking for Buckley, who at that time was repairing the wheel on his lawnmower, according to the affidavit.
Bean told police he saw Rodriguez knocking on the side door under the carport but didn’t see him go inside. He said Sheffield pulled up sometime around 1 p.m. in a “big red Dodge truck,” the affidavit states.
Police believe Rodriguez either entered the residence with permission from Price or found an unlocked door, the affidavit states. She was found “brutally beaten about her head and left for dead on the floor of her laundry room,” the affidavit states.
At some point Sheffield showed up but was immediately attacked and knocked to the floor before being beaten in the face and head with blunt objects.
Bean said he was using a leaf blower to blow grass off the driveway at the time, according to the affidavit. He thought Rodriguez was still in the backyard. As the crew wrapped up its work, Bean saw Rodriguez throw stuff in a brush pile near the curb but did not think anything of it, the affidavit states.
Bean told police Buckley dropped him and Rodriguez off at Rodriguez’s home but he was not allowed in, the affidavit states.
Bean told police he never touched a hammer or hedge trimmers while at Price’s home and that Rodriguez was the only one who did. He also told police the three-man crew were the only ones who came or went during that time, the affidavit states.
Police, around the same time as they met with Bean, attempted to contact Rodriguez at home. They met his mother, who said he lived at the residence but was not there, according to the affidavit.
“The hammer, hedge trimmers and/or rod appeared to match the wounds that I personally observed on Cecil's head and face along with the similar head trauma observed on Carolyn Price,” the affidavit states. “The claw hammer is also believed to be the main weapon used to assault Carolyn.”
Police executed a search warrant at Rodriguez’s home, where they say they found the bent hedge trimmers and a rod or hardened stick with what appeared to be blood all over them and Rodriguez’s work gloves and pants they also believed to have blood on them, the affidavit states.
Rodriguez’s family told police he was violent and they blame him for the death of their father.
Rodriguez has been arrested on four different occasions by law enforcement within Angelina County for assault causing bodily injury to a family member or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
In his first case, in 2010, he was placed on deferred adjudication after pleading guilty; he took 13 weeks of the Batterers Intervention Program. There was a motion to adjudicate guilt in 2012, and Rodriguez served 100 days in the county jail, according to the county’s criminal case records.
There was a complaint of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2011 and one listed with a similar date later that year to which he pleaded guilty and was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison. He was placed on shock probation before the plea was amended and he was again found guilty, his probation was revoked and he served another four years, according to county records.
His latest complaint was issued in December 2020 for assault causing bodily injury to a family member for which he has yet to face trial. He posted bond and was released.
He had two other arrests in 2021 for assault — one was in relation to the December case. His latest arrest, outside the capital murder case, was on Sept. 10.
Rodriguez is in the Angelina County Jail on a $5 million bond.