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Ex-UNLV Star Sentenced

Richie Adams, a former UNLV basketball star who once was headed for the pros, was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison for the beating death of a high school student, prosecutors said Monday.

Adams was convicted of manslaughter in the 1996 killing of 15-year-old Norma Rodriguez. The Morris High School student was found Oct. 15, 1996 in the hallway of the Jackson Houses project in the Bronx, where both she and Adams had lived.

Rodriguez's family said at the time of his arrest that Adams had stalked and attacked her because she rejected his advances.

Adams, now 35, dazzled hoops fans in the 1980s at UNLV, where he played under coach Jerry Tarkanian and was considered a defensive genius, known for shot-blocking and rebounding. The 6-foot-9 lefty was nicknamed "The Animal" because of his intense playing style.

A day after he was drafted to play for the NBA's Washington Bullets, Adams was arrested on an auto theft charge. He was jailed three times on robbery and grand larceny convictions before being charged in Rodriguez's death.

Police said a bloody size 13½ basketball shoe print led them to Adams, who was living with his mother one floor below where the high school freshman was found savagely beaten.

The medical examiner testified that Rodriguez died of head and neck injuries - a result of being repeatedly stomped upon.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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