Jacksonville, Fla. — UPDATE, 2/18/2021: Judge Jeb Branham has accepted Lee Rodarte’s guilty plea.
Rodarte, the suspect in 2017 killing of Savannah Gold, has submitted a guilty plea to 2nd degree murder with negotiated sentence of 40 years.
His sentencing set for March 11 at 2 p.m.
Original story from 2/16/2021 below:
Lee Rodarte Jr., the Jacksonville man accused of killing his 21-year-old coworker in 2017, Savannah Gold, has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Rodarte Jr.’s attorney tells Action News Jax they’ve agreed to a guilty plea and negotiated sentence.
His attorney, Alan Chipperfield, did not reveal the details of the agreement, saying the agreement would not officially be filed in open court until Thursday at 1 p.m.
Rodarte Jr.’s charged with second degree murder, evidence tampering, and abusing a body.
While Chipperfield tells Action News Jax the plea agreement would resolve the case, he says it does not mean his client would plead guilty to all three charges.
Police say Lee Rodarte Jr. and Savannah Gold, worked together at Bonefish Grill in Mandarin, where Rodarte was a manager. The two are believed to have had an on-again, off-again relationship.
At the height of investigation, Rodarte changed his story multiple times, even telling Action News Jax’s Bridgette Matter it was an accident, before confessing and leading police to her body.
Rodarte would later file a “stand your ground” defense in a motion to dismiss his case, where he argued he killed Gold because he thought his life was in danger.
Police say Gold got into Rodarte’s car in the parking lot of the Bonefish Grill before Savannah’s shift. The two had a fight, and there was a struggle inside of the car. JSO says Rodarte then slashed a tire on Gold’s car before driving away.
Gold’s body was later found in a pond off Club Duclay Road. Traffic tickets issued to Rodarte in 2006 show that he once lived on the same street where the body was found,
Gold was never seen exiting the car. Gold’s parents received strange text messages from Gold’s phone, the messages had misspelled words and said she was running away with a guy she met and would call later.
Amber Camarillo, Rodarte’s sister, is also in jail for an unrelated murder she is accused of committing in 2016.
While Rodarte’s attorney says the plea agreement resolves the case, the change in plea does not mean Rodarte will plead guilty to each charge.
Cox Media Group