HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Hareton Rodriguez-Sariol kept his head low as family members of a 12-year-old and her grandmother testified in Rockingham Circuit Court on Tuesday about how their killings have impacted their lives.
A judge sentenced the 50-year-old to two life sentences after he pleaded guilty last year to first-degree murder — which is not eligible for the death penalty in Virginia.
The dismembered remains of Angie Carolina Rodriguez Rubio and Elizabeth Rodriguez Rubio were discovered in September in Shenandoah and Madison counties after Sariol led authorities to the bodies. The two went missing in early August after they were last seen at Dukes Plaza in Harrisonburg. Sariol had been supposed to give them a ride from Harrisonburg to their home in Maryland.
Sandra Viviana Marroquin, who lost her daughter and mother, told the courtroom their deaths were "very distressing" and said she has experienced both emotional and physical pain since.
Maria Isabel Giraldo, who was also Elizabeth's daughter, recounted the frantic search for the two. She credited her faith for teaching her to forgive the man responsible for their deaths.
Elizabeth's son also testified and called the horrific deaths "very unfair."
Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst asked the defendant be served double life sentences and called Sariol — who served in the Cuban army in his past — a "convincing, clever man," who would have gotten away with the crime if not for modern investigative tools.
"To say it's cruel is an understatement," she said when describing the nature of Sariol's offenses.
The defense's only witness failed to show.
In a statement, Sariol told the courtroom about witnessing the deaths of his best friends during his military service and suffering from mental health issues throughout his life.
While he said he was at one time in a relationship with the woman he murdered, Elizabeth's daughter said afterward she did not believe that was true. In the weeks after her disappearance, family members said Sariol had grown increasingly obsessed with her.
Sariol said a text message on Elizabeth's phone led to the shooting.
Angie jumped in the way of the gunfire to save her grandmother.
"Everything happened so fast," Sariol said before he began sobbing and the judge called a recess.
When Sariol returned to the courtroom, he said he could "never repent enough" to make up to the family.
Before the sentence was handed down, the judge said Elizabeth and Angie's last moments "were about love and sacrifice."
In addition to the two life sentences, the judge ordered Sariol to never have contact with the family again.