Video Of Family Comforting 30-Year-Old After 14 Years In Prison Gets Backlash After People Find Out What He Did

Prisons always fail.

Family driving home TikTok

A TikTok video showing a moment of love and heartache between a family has had a divisive effect on viewers.

When a user, "@freeJRod," posted a video of her family driving her brother home from prison, fellow TikTok users were initially compassionate.

The TikTok shows a family taking their brother home from prison after being locked up since he was 16. 

While sitting in a car, the now-30-year-old man fights back tears as his siblings, parents and other family members reach from all angles to hold him for the first time in 14 years.


"Our stars finally aligned," she captioned the video.

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Users were quick to send their best wishes to the man.

"Prayers for recovery, healing and a fresh start," wrote one user.


"Seeing that genuine love for him after being away so long I know had to of meant the world to him," offered another.

According to a website created by the family to advocate for his release, the man's name is Johnathan Rodriguez.

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In 2009, Johnathan Rodriguez was charged in connection with the murder of Derrick Godfrey.

Godfrey, a 26-year-old, was shot dead on July 1 in Houston, Texas. His body was discovered in a ditch hours later by a friend.

“It’s really devastating. I can’t believe it,” Godfrey's mother, Vickie Barnett, told The Chronicle shortly after receiving the phone call letting her know her son was dead.


“They killed my son.”

Months later, Rodriguez and two other minors were arrested and charged with capital murder — though his charge and another of the boys, Jonathan Rivera, was later reduced to aggravated robbery.

All three were tried as adults.

According to a 2013 filing in the Court of Appeals, Rivera and Rodriguez, along with another friend, Ramiro Martinez, encountered Godfrey who mistook one of them for a friend of his.

The boys robbed Godfrey of $40 before Rivera fled the scene. Rodriguez testified that Martinez was the one who shot Godfrey. Martinez was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole.

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Reddit users have criticized Rodriguez's family for documenting his prison release.

While TikTok users have largely celebrated the man's fresh start and recognized that he served his time, Reddit has been less forgiving.

Users, citing several misconstrued details about the case, were quick to argue that the man's crime should not be overlooked.

“Let's not forget that this wasn't manslaughter, some drunken mistake, he intentionally shot someone for $40,” one user wrote.

“Well, you don't go to prison at 16 for 14 years over nothing, so I'm guessing I just watched a 1-minute long video of people petting a murderer?” said another.

Others questioned whether Rodriguez could truly have been rehabilitated — however, that is an issue that should be taken up with government officials and those working in the prison system, not victims of the system.


Some users did recognize the nuance of the situation — regardless of how you feel about Rodriguez, his family do not deserve to receive negativity.

"Even if it was murder or manslaughter, dude paid his time. Let his family love him. Destigmatizing the reintroduction of felons to civilian life is worthy social media content," one user wrote.

"People forget the point of prison is supposed to be about rehabilitation if your sentence doesn't take you to your final breath."


"Conflicted," expressed another. "On one hand, he served his time. On the other, those family members and friends didn't get their loved one back after 14 years."

"Then again even the murderer's family didn't ask to have their family torn apart. It's all just very sad."

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Taylor Haynes is a writer based in Chicago. She covers entertainment, news and human interest stories at YourTango. You can find her on Instagram here.