BURLEY — Dressed in an orange and white prison jumpsuit with his hands shackled, Carlos Tena told jurors that Gilberto Flores Rodriguez told him he had “disposed of” 14-year-old Regina Krieger.
Tena was a witness Thursday in Rodriguez’s murder trial.
Krieger disappeared from her basement bedroom in 1995. Her body was found weeks later with her throat cut and a stab wound to her heart.
Tena, who knew Rodriguez in the 1990s, didn’t mention the name Gina or Regina Krieger in connection with the conversations he’d had with Rodriguez about the girl during questioning by the prosecutor in front of the jury on Thursday — but Tena admitted under cross-examination by Rodriguez’s attorney Keith Roark that Rodriguez had used Krieger’s name when he spoke about having to “dispose of her.”
Roark had Tena read portions of Rodriguez’s preliminary hearing transcript because Roark said his story was inconsistent with both his preliminary hearing testimony and deposition.
Tena told the jury during the previous hearing that he’d had a conversation with Rodriguez at a Rupert pond where two young girls were fishing and one of the girls reminded Rodriguez of Krieger — and Rodriguez spoke of the murder to Tena.
Tena said Rodriguez told her the girl at the pond resembled Krieger.
Roark read a portion of Tena’s preliminary testimony aloud where Tena said Rodriguez had told him “too bad she had to be a piece of s***and had to be disposed of.”
Roark questioned Tena about what disposed of meant.
“It’s the same thing, disposing of, killing,” Tena said.
“You specifically refrained from using that word this morning,” Roark said.
When Cassia County Prosecutor McCord Larsen questioned Tena a second time he also asked him to define the terms dispose of and kill.
“In the lifestyle we were living it means the same thing in my opinion,” Tena said.
Roark also mentioned preliminary testimony where Tena said Rodriguez had a necklace belonging to Krieger that could tie her to him.
During Roark’s questioning of Tena, Rodriguez, who up to that point had often sat with his eyes closed or downcast, appeared to begin breathing more rapidly and moving around in his chair.
Tena also said Rodriguez had told him the feds were poking around at the Krieger murder case and he might have to leave the country.
Roark told the jury that one of the years Tena claims to have had one of the conversations with Rodriguez could not have taken place because Rodriguez was incarcerated the entire year.
Roark also questioned Tena about his testimony where he claims Rodriguez shot a person in Greeley, Colorado, which was a “cartel hit” and when Rodriguez shot a man after an argument in Ogden, Utah.
Roark asked Tena several times if he’d reported those murders to federal agents and pointed out that an FBI agent was sitting at the back of the courtroom, which prompted all of the jurors to turn and look at the agent, who was dressed in street clothes.
Tena said he recognized the special agent at the back of the room and said he’d reported both murders to him.
Roark also asked Tena why, as a persistent violator several years ago, he was released from incarceration and only required to regularly check in with a federal agent, instead of a county probation and parole department, but Tena had no explanation.
Under questioning by Larsen, Tena said he had not received and didn’t expect to receive any benefits from his court testimony.
Former Cassia County Coroner Paul Young also took the stand and a series of photos of Krieger’s body and wounds along with a picture of her body where it was found were shown to the jury.
After a morning break, Cassia County District Judge Michael Tribe announced that an amended order had been issued by the Idaho Supreme Court allowing people to take off their COVID-19 masks in the courtroom, which all of the jurors did.
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