Charges dismissed against handyman kidnapping suspect

Chanelle Troedson

One man originally implicated in the bizarre kidnapping of a handyman in Morgan Hill last month is off the hook for the crime, while the other two suspects remain in custody awaiting further court proceedings. 

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office filed a motion Friday to dismiss the case against kidnapping suspect Richard Rodriguez, Jr., 49 of Alameda due to “insufficiency of the evidence” of his alleged involvement in the Dec. 3 incident, according to Deputy District Attorney Troy Benson. 

Rodriguez’ attorney and Judge Alfonso Hernandez accepted the motion with no argument at Friday’s hearing. 

Friday’s hearing for the other two suspects – Jason DeJesus, 36 of Morgan Hill, and Chanelle Troedson, 33 of Morgan Hill – was continued to Jan. 11 at South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill. 

DeJesus and Troedson were arrested Dec. 3 and are charged with kidnapping during a carjacking, kidnapping to commit robbery, battery causing serious bodily injury, assault by force likely and false imprisonment.

They are accused of kidnapping a 50-year-old handyman from San Jose that day and forcing him to conduct repairs at the couple’s north Morgan Hill home. 

The confrontation between the kidnappers and their victim originated a couple months earlier, when the victim, a home repair handyman, performed work at the home of a relative of one of the suspects, police said. The suspect’s relative only paid the victim for a portion of the work, resulting in a dispute over services rendered. 

On Dec. 3, sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Cottle Road, after a call from San Jose Police who reported they had DeJesus and Troedson in custody, authorities said. 

The victim told investigators that earlier that morning, the suspects lured the victim to a home on the 200 block of Caldwell Court in north Morgan Hill, police said. The suspects wanted the victim to perform “repair work” on an appliance at the home for them. 

When the victim arrived, the suspects immediately assaulted him, held him against his will and repeatedly threatened to kill him for several hours, police said. They subsequently forced the man to conduct more repair work at the residence. 

At about 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3, the suspects forced the victim into his own truck, police said. The suspects entered the truck as well, and one of them drove as they told the victim they were going to the relative’s house in Santa Clara, which was the subject of the original dispute. 

The suspects told the victim they were going to force him to complete the work he started two months earlier at the Santa Clara home, police said. 

While en route to the suspect’s relative’s home, the suspects stopped for gas near Santa Teresa Boulevard and Cottle Road in San Jose, according to police. The suspects exited the truck to pay for gas and snacks. They told the victim to remain inside the vehicle. 

While the suspects were outside the vehicle, the victim managed to escape on foot, police said. He ran to a nearby residence to report the incident. 

San Jose police responded and found the two suspects in the area, authorities said. 

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Rodriguez several days after the incident, after acquiring a warrant for his arrest. He was out of custody at Friday’s hearing, which he attended willingly. He left the courtroom after the judge accepted the D.A.’s request to dismiss the charges against him.