Family says suspect is mentally ill |

Family says suspect is mentally ill

A Grass Valley man facing corporal injury charges needs help with a mental illness, his relatives said Monday.

Jonathan M. Rodriguez, 27, is expected to enter a plea at a hearing at 1 p.m. Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court. He is charged with inflicting “a corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” on his wife, according to the complaint filed by the District Attorney’s office.

But Fiona Drennan said her husband did not beat her. Rather, Rodriguez called authorities in early January during a verbal argument because he was delusional and believed his wife was harming him, said his mother, Debbie Rodriguez.

“All they want to do is send him back to prison,” said Debbie Rodriguez, 53. “That’s not the answer. He needs to be in a mental health facility until he’s in his right mind. … He has not quite accepted the fact he has a mental illness.”

Jonathan Rodriguez could not be located for comment.

Debbie Rodriguez said her son was diagnosed as having the most severe form of bipolar disease when he was 15. Court records show he was convicted in a 1990 forgery and theft case, in a 1998 theft case, and in a 2000 case involving battery and threatening.

He also has had several parole violations, Debbie Rodriguez said. She blamed his mental illness for his run-ins with the law.

“The area of the disease is in the decision-making part of the brain,” Rodriguez said. “They don’t see the consequences of what they are doing.”

Jonathan Rodriguez received psychiatric medication while in prison and brought the pills with him when he was released a year ago, his mother said. He started a job in Sacramento and moved with the company to Grass Valley, where his wife worked.

He was doing well, but the medication started running out. “He was trying to stretch it,” Debbie Rodriguez said. “He was cutting the tablets in half.”

With insurance from his employer, Rodriguez went to a private psychiatrist who prescribed a new medication, his mother said. The new medication made him feel so well that he stopped taking it, she said.

“Jon thought he was cured,” said Joyce Nedeleff, his mother-in-law.

Then, the voices and delusions returned. “He has no reality. It’s a fantasy world. He thinks everybody’s lying,” Nedeleff said.

Both Jonathan Rodriguez and Drennan were injured in a car wreck on Colfax Highway Jan. 20. Drennan remains at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where she is being treated for a compound fracture of the femur, a crushed tibia and broken wrist, Nedeleff said. Drennan is set to start physical therapy soon.

Rodriguez suffered a dislocated hip, refused further treatment after the hip was relocated, then was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving. The status of that charge was not clear.

Now, he has no job and no insurance to pay for psychiatric help, Debbie Rodriguez said. She does not know where he is.

“His wife doesn’t want him to go to prison. She wants him to get help,” Rodriguez said.


To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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