Bank Slayings

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One man already convicted of five counts of first-degree murder in the Norfolk bank slayings of September 2002 says he will not testify in the upcoming trial of the last of four suspects in the case.

Madison County Attorney Joe Smith asked District Judge Robert Ensz to advise Erick Vela of his obligation to testify at Gabriel Rodriguez's trial next week, that after Smith said Vela's attorney told him Vela would refuse to testify.

Vela pleaded guilty to five counts of murder for his part in the US Bank murders. He is awaiting sentencing.

Vela sat across the Madison County District Courtroom this morning from Rodriguez. Ensz asked Vela if he understands that he could be held in contempt if he refuses to take the stand. Vela said he did.

Vela and Rodriguez nodded at each other and smiled before Rodriguez left at the end of the pre-trial hearing.

Rodriguez's attorney, Mark Johnson, is seeking a change of venue because of pretrial publicity in the case.

Jury selection in Rodriguez's trial is scheduled to begin on Monday.