NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors need more time to investigate the heatstroke deaths of twin 1-year-olds left in a parked car before deciding whether to proceed with charges against the children’s father, a New York City judge was told on Thursday.
An assistant Bronx district attorney said at a court hearing that there had been no grand jury action so far against the victims’ father, Juan Rodriguez. Another hearing was set for Aug. 27, when Rodriguez could learn whether he will be prosecuted for what his lawyer calls a tragic mistake.
Rodriguez, 39, was arrested on charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child last week after he discovered the bodies of his daughter Luna and son Phoenix still strapped into their car seats in a vehicle after working an eight-hour shift in the Bronx.
Court papers say the distraught father told police: “I blanked out. My babies are dead. I killed my babies.”
Rodriguez, who’s out on $100,000 bail, didn’t speak at the hearing on Thursday. The courtroom was filled with his wife and other supporters who describe him as a devoted father who’s suffering enough.
Defense attorney Joey Jackson told reporters outside court that charges have been dropped in similar hot car deaths of unattended children around the country. He said he understands that the district attorney has to investigate what happened but that Rodriguez did not intend to kill his babies.
“Mr. Rodriguez is heart-wrenched and heartbroken,” he said.