ORANGE CITY, Iowa | A Rock Valley, Iowa, man was formally charged Monday with killing his grandfather inside a house and then setting fire to it in an attempt to cover up the crime.
Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle filed a trial information document charging Santos Rodriguez Jr. with one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson.
Rodriguez, 19, is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 11 in Sioux County District Court. First-degree murder is punishable by a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. First-degree arson, a Class B felony, carries a 25-year prison sentence.
Firefighters discovered the body of Luis Luevanos, 84, in a home in the 1400 block of 15th Street in Rock Valley after responding to a fire at 2 a.m. Oct. 29.
Investigators determined that Luevanos had been stabbed multiple times before the fire. According to court documents, Rodriguez is accused of stabbing Luevanos and then setting fire to the bedroom in which Luevanos' body was lying. Seven other people were inside the home at the time of the fire, which was set to destroy the house and conceal the crime, court documents said.
Monday's filing contains no additional details, only saying that Rodriguez "willfully, deliberately and with premeditation" killed Luevanos. The charge also raises the alternative possibility that Rodriguez killed Luevanos while participating in a forcible felony.
Rodriguez traveled to Utah after the fire and was arrested there on Nov. 8.
According to court documents, Rodriguez made statements to authorities after his arrest in which he admitted stabbing Luevanos and intentionally setting the fire.