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Man sentenced in Barnum woman’s kidnapping

A southwestern Minnesota man who admitted to kidnapping a Barnum woman was sentenced Monday to more than five years in prison, bringing an unusually swift resolution to a felony-level criminal case.

Eliezer Rodriguez, 23, of Renville, Minn., pleaded guilty on July 13 in State District Court in Carlton to felony charges of kidnapping and first-degree aggravated robbery. Authorities said he brandished a handgun and ordered a female victim to drive him from her Barnum home to Pine County during a June 13 incident.

Judge Robert Macaulay accepted the terms of a plea agreement between the Carlton County Attorney's Office and Rodriguez, sentencing him to 68 months in prison. Additional felony charges of first-degree burglary and threats of violence were dismissed.

Rodriguez's sentencing came just 42 days after his arrest.

He must serve at least two-thirds of his sentence in prison, or a little less than four years, before he is eligible for supervised release.

According to court documents:

The victim said she had just returned home from work and began to prepare dinner when Rodriguez appeared in her home. The suspect brandished a handgun and ordered the woman to give her all the money in her billfold - $326 - and drive him in her car to Pine County. The victim said she was threatened with her life if she did not comply.

The suspect initially wanted to go Grand Casino Hinckley, but when they arrived there he changed his mind and instead had the woman drive him to Sandstone. He got out of the car, and the woman returned to her Barnum home and called 911.

Investigators later discovered that a man fitting the description of the woman's kidnapper, including a distinct tattoo above one eye, had stolen a cellphone in the area earlier that day. Officers obtained a search warrant to check that phone's location. They found a call had been made from Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minn., where local police officers found and arrested the suspect, who was still carrying the gun, a Taurus.410 handgun.

Authorities said there was no apparent relationship between Rodriguez and the woman, and it was unclear why he was in Barnum.

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