Carjacking suspect accused of slashing Sandia National Lab employee with machete

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A cross-country carjacking led to one New Mexico man almost losing an ear on the Fourth of July weekend.

Daniel Pless was just trying to be a good Samaritan after a man broke into his East Mountain home saying he was stabbed. But before Pless could call 911, 21-year-old Fernando Rodriguez slashed him in the face with a machete. 

Pless later told police Rodriguez was attempting to steal his vehicle – a silver Mazda. 

Police first got the call around 3 p.m. on July 3. When they arrived, they said Pless had a cut around six inches from his cheek bone through his ear to the back of his head.

They said they saw his ear “hanging where it had been cut.”

According to the criminal complaint, Pless ran to his neighbor’s house after Rodriguez cut him and stole his cell phones, including his work phone for Sandia National Labs. 

On July 6 a Missouri state trooper pulled Rodriguez over in the stolen Mazda for speeding. 

According to the criminal complaint, the state trooper saw the car was reported stolen. 

When he asked Rodriguez why he stole the car, Rodriguez said “I have nothing left. I don’t know,” and also said he “didn’t know if he killed” Pless or not.

Rodriguez was arrested and charge for the assault on Pless and stealing his car.

Rodriguez is back in New Mexico and being held for pretrial detention. He will be before a judge in the next 10 days.