DA: No criminal case at this time against father involved in twins' hot car death in the Bronx

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Thursday, August 1, 2019
Father charged in twins' hot car deaths due in Bronx court
Derick Waller has more on the charges against the father.

KINGSBRIDGE, Bronx -- The district attorney has decided that there is no criminal case at this time against the father who said he forgot about his twin babies, left them in a sweltering car, and returned from work to find them dead.

Juan Rodriguez appeared in a Bronx courthouse to answer to charges of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter Thursday.

Yet the Bronx district attorney has decided not to put it before a grand jury at this time, pending further investigation. This means that prosecutors are effectively pausing the prosecution, but the criminal case is still active.

The next court date is August 27.

Rodriguez, 39, admitted to police he left his twin babies in the car for hours on a sweltering hot day.

Rodriguez told police he forgot Luna and Phoenix Rodriguez were in the backseat, and he went to work for the day and found them eight hours later at the intersection of Kingsbridge Terrace and Kingsbridge Road in the Kingsbridge neighborhood.

The father from New City, Rockland County, was taken into custody for questioning last Friday and charged early Saturday morning.

Rodriguez told police he dropped one of his children, a three-year-old, at a home in Westchester, and then drove to work at the VA Medical Center in the Bronx around 8:00 a.m. He told police he forgot the children were in their rear-facing car seats when he parked, police said.

He said he went back into his car after his eight-hour shift and started to drive away, according to police. He drove for two blocks before discovering the children in the back seat "foaming at the mouth" and called 911.

Police said he pulled over and screamed for help.

Rodriguez cried throughout his previous court appearance, but when his attorney mentioned the twins, he started sobbing and shaking.

"My client is heartbroken," said attorney Joey Jackson. "He certainly understands the gravity of what occurred. His family understands the gravity of what occurred. They are strong, they are resilient, and they will get through this very difficult and trying time."

Rodriguez is a licensed clinical social worker and also an Army Veteran who served in Iraq.

Thursday, we will learn if Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark will take this case to a grand jury.

Mourners placed flowers, candles and stuffed animals close to where the car had been parked in the Bronx.

A GoFundMe page for funeral expenses has now raised more than $85,000.