Officials Still Investigating Hot-Car Death Case Against NY Father Juan Rodriguez

August 27, 2019 Updated: August 27, 2019

Prosecutors said that they are reviewing the criminal case against Juan Rodriguez, the father charged in the deaths of 1-year-old twins in New York City last month.

Rodriguez, 39, appeared at the Bronx Criminal Court on Aug. 27 for a hearing, the New York Post reported. Prosecutors said for a second time that a grand jury hasn’t indicted him.

He was charged with two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide for the death of his twins, Phoenix and Luna, on July 26.

According to CBS New York, the judge also didn’t move to dismiss the case.

The district attorney’s office said officials need more time to investigate the case toward potentially two counts of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and endangering the welfare of a child, before it is brought to a grand jury.

He is slated to head back to court on Sept. 24.

His attorney spoke out about how the family is doing in the wake of the deaths. “The family obviously is very wounded and deeply hurt, but they are not broken,” said defense attorney Joey Jackson, CBS New York reported.

Rodriguez posted $100,000 bail after he was arrested in the twins’ deaths.

His attorney, earlier this month, told the Post that he is optimistic that the district attorney’s office will dismiss charges against him.

“We understand that they will continue to evaluate all aspects of the case and we welcome their evaluation of that,” said Jackson. “We believe at the conclusion of them evaluating all the facts, all evidence and everything in this case, they will come to the conclusion that this is a horrible tragedy.”

“He has nothing at all to harbor and hide, other than to feel misery and sorrow about what happened,” Jackson told the New York Times, adding that the district attorney should do “what we believe is the right thing, and that is, to dismiss these charges.”

On July 26, the father discovered the twins unconscious in their car seats in his Honda Accord, which had been parked at his workplace—a VA hospital in the Bronx.

Called Wife Before Discovery

According to New York station WPIX, Rodriguez called his wife as he was pulling away from the VA Hospital parking lot where he worked as a social worker. He then asked her to pick them up from daycare.

The father then realized that the twins were still strapped to their car seats and were never taken to their daycare, the station reported.

“He made a phone call as he was leaving the hospital asking his wife to pick up the kids at daycare,” a law enforcement source told the station. “He was supposed to pick up a uniform for his reserve duty. He truly believed they were at the daycare.”

The WPIX report stated that Rodriguez drove two blocks after leaving the hospital before he noticed his twin babies, Luna and Phoenix, were still there.

Witnesses said that after he stopped the car, he began screaming.

“I blanked out! I killed my babies,” he reportedly said, according to the station.

Heatkills.org, citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that when outdoor temperatures range between 80 and 100 degrees, the interior of the car can get to 130 to 172 degrees.

“Children have died in cars with the temperature as low as 63 degrees. Basically, the car becomes a greenhouse. At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees,” stated Jan Null, adjunct professor at San Francisco State University, according to the website.

 

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