A New York father who was charged in the deaths of his twin babies is “devastated,” according to his defense lawyer.
Juan Rodriguez, 39, had completed an eight-hour shift at a Bronx hospital and driven two blocks before he remembered he had left his one-year-old twins in the car, and spotted them in the back seat “foaming at the mouth,” according to police.
Medics pronounced the boy and girl, Phoenix and Luna, dead at the scene, according to the New York Post.
The Bronx father pleaded not guilty to two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide, reported ABC News.
The 39-year-old’s attorney, Joey Jackson, said in a statement, “As you might imagine, Mr. Rodriguez, his lovely wife Marissa, the entire Rodriguez family, as well as the community, are devastated by this tragic and horrific set of circumstances.”
Rodriguez, who is married and has three other children, was released on $100,000 bail over the weekend following his arraignment on July 27.
According to The Post, Rodriguez told police that he forgot to drop the twins off at their daycare on the morning of July 26. After he parked his car at the hospital, where he’s employed as a social worker, he didn’t realize they were in the back seat.
An unbelievable tragedy. A disabled Iraq war veteran, who cares for homeless & ailing vets at a VA hospital. Forgot his twin babies in his car & they died. Bronx DA charged him w/ manslaughter & requested & $100k bail. Why put the family through more hell? https://t.co/qc8NrrO6eb
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) July 28, 2019
“The vehicle had tinted windows, so it was almost impossible for anybody to notice that the children were there,” NYC Council member Fernando Cabrera told CBS New York.
When coroners examined the twins’ bodies, they had a temperature of 108 degrees F.
“I assumed I dropped them off at daycare before I went to work,” Rodriguez, an Iraq war veteran who worked with veterans, told the police. “I blanked out!” he cried. “My babies are dead! I killed my babies!”
“He carried on with his day,” Assistant District Attorney Jaime Breslin told the judge during his court appearance on Saturday. “He forgot his children in the seats.”
Meanwhile, Jackson said it was a “tragedy of horrific proportions.”
According to CBS New York, the father is on suicide watch.
“My client is inconsolable. He is beside himself in grief, and he’s been that way for a period of time, and I’m concerned about his mental health,” Jackson told the news outlet.
Neighbor Galit Maayani told CBS New York the parents “loved their kids and that’s what we see from the outside.
“Lovely family. They were always out in the backyard saying hi waving hello,” David Maayani added.
In a statement for the Rodriguez family, his wife Marissa Rodriguez said they are living their “absolute nightmare,” and added that she is “hurting more than I ever imagined possible.”
“I still love my husband. He is a good person and great father and I know he would’ve never done anything to hurt our children intentionally. I will never get over this loss and I know he will never forgive himself for this mistake,” she said.
She described their children’s deaths as a “horrific accident.”
“I need him [Rodriguez] by my side to go through this together. Luna and Phoenix will always live in our hearts and memories and we are working hard to come to terms with what has happened. We need to grieve, be strong, and be present for our other children,” she added in the statement.
The family is “trying to come to grips with the horrific nature of this circumstance,” Jackson said. “He’s mindful of the fact that he has to live with this every day of the rest of his life.”
Temperatures in New York City reached about 90 degrees F on the day the twins died.
Rodriguez’s next court appearance is scheduled on Aug. 1.
The Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.