Fort Walton Beach mother sentenced to life in prison

 OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – A Fort Walton Beach woman is in custody and charged with first-degree pre-meditated murder. Okaloosa County deputies were called to the boardwalk on Okaloosa Island on March 25, 2020, after work crews spotted a woman suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the torso. When deputies arrived on the scene, […] [[{“value”:”

OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – A Fort Walton Beach woman is in custody and charged with first-degree pre-meditated murder.

Okaloosa County deputies were called to the boardwalk on Okaloosa Island on March 25, 2020, after work crews spotted a woman suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the torso.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they found 30-year-old Maria Rodriquez-Barnes along with her five-month-old son in the backseat of the truck. The child was shot one time in the chest, authorities said.


Okaloosa mom charged with infant’s murder

Barnes reportedly had texted and emailed family members about her pending plans that connected her to the infant’s death and her injury.

State Attorney Ginger Bowden Madden announced that on June 5, 2024, an Okaloosa County jury found Maria Rodriguez Barnes guilty of first-degree premeditated murder in the shooting death of her infant son.

The Honorable John T. Brown presided over the trial and sentenced Ms. Rodriguez to a mandatory life sentence.

The evidence showed Ms. Rodriguez committed the murder in response to her husband requesting a divorce. Rodriguez drove her five-month-old son to the boardwalk in the early morning of March 25, where her husband had proposed. She called her husband and then shot their son in the backseat of the vehicle before shooting herself, according to authorities.

Notes describing her intent were found in both her vehicle and her home and she sent a text message of her plan to her husband.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Michelle Sandler and co-counsel Assistant State Attorney Noah Losco. Any questions can be directed to Ms. Sandler at 850-651-7260.

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