Valley couple settles wrongful death lawsuit

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PHOENIX -- A former subcontractor for Cox Communications is now on death row for killing a Valley couple's only son. The family just settled a wrongful death lawsuit and is now talking exclusively to 3TV.

“I used to tell him he was an old soul in a young man's body because his outlook in life was so amazing,” Sandy Padilla said.

An amazing kid who blessed Sandy and Rudy Padilla Sr. for 20 years. Rudy Jr. was their only child.

“He had goals,” Padilla said. “I used to say he was an honor roll student since preschool because he always strived for the best.”

National Honor Society to getting a full-ride scholarship to the University of Arizona, but Rudy left after one year because he wanted to be closer to home. He headed to Collins College to study media arts and movie production.

“As they say, you have kids and you teach them, and he taught us,” Padilla said. “He used to tell me that I needed to be more like him. He said, 'You know, Mom, if I die tomorrow,' he says, 'I would leave with no regrets.’”

But on Dec. 9, 2005, the Padillas' lives would be turned upside down forever. Their 20-year-old son who had stayed home that morning to catch up on some sleep was murdered.
 
“I said, 'OK, love you, call me when you wake up,' and the next call I got was from my husband that I needed to come home,” Padilla said. “I said where is he and he said he's gone. And I said where did they take him and he just started crying and said he's dead.”

Michael Gallardo now sits on death row. According to court testimony, Gallardo broke into the home. Rudy Jr. confronted him but was overpowered. Gallardo then tied his hands and feet with electrical cords, put a pillowcase over his face, forced him to his knees and shot him in the back of his head.

In a deposition last year, Gallardo contends Rudy Jr. approached him a few days prior with questions about his Internet. After all, Gallardo was wearing a T-shirt that identified him as a subcontractor working for Cox.

“If they come into your home, you hope they're coming to service your home, not to come scope it out, so they can come help themselves later or, in our case, murdering our son,” Padilla said.

“I can see ex-cons getting a second chance, but not with the record this guy had,” Rudy Sr. said.

With a wrongful death lawsuit complete, the Padillas aren't finished fighting for their son.