NEW YORK — The father whose 1-year-old twins died after he left them in a hot car for eight hours told authorities he thought he dropped them off at day care before going to work, according to a criminal complaint.
The court document said Juan Rodriguez, 39, told police something to the effect of, “I assumed I dropped them off at day care before I went to work. I blanked out. My babies are dead. I killed my babies.”
Rodriguez was arrested and charged with two counts each of manslaughter, criminal negligent homicide, and endangering the welfare of a child, the New York Police Department said.
His attorney, Joey Jackson, told CNN when he went to see his client Saturday, July 27 he looked “inconsolable and beside himself.” Jackson is also a CNN analyst.
“The (Rodriguez) family is ripped apart,” Jackson said. “His mental state is very fragile, based on what happened. It’s just an awful scenario.”
Rodriguez faces up to four years in prison for the criminal negligent homicide charge, and up to 15 years for the manslaughter charge. He was arraigned Saturday and paid $50,000 on a $100,000 bond, according to Patrice O’Shaughnessy, a spokeswoman for the Bronx district attorney.
Rodriguez pleaded not guilty, O’Shaughnessy said. His next court appearance was slated for Aug. 1.
Rodriguez ‘never had any intention of this happening,’ attorney says
The twins were found unresponsive in the back seat of a Honda sedan in the Bronx on Friday, July 26, the NYPD said. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Police initially identified the twins as Mariza and Phoenix Rodriguez, but later said their names were Luna and Phoenix Rodriguez.
According to the criminal complaint, obtained by CNN through Jackson, the twins were in the vehicle from approximately 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. while Rodriguez went to work. Officials previously said he worked at a nearby VA hospital.
By the time the father returned to his car, the twins had been inside for approximately eight hours, and were no longer breathing, the complaint said. The medical examiner found the body temperature of both children was 108 degrees Fahrenheit, per the court document.
Jackson said his client “never had any intention of this happening. It’s so sad that this, unfortunately, happens all across the country. All too often, we cover stories like this. Fortunately, he’s got a tremendous support network working with him — his family, his wife, his friends,” Jackson said. “He has five kids — now three — and everyone is just besides themselves.”
The district attorney’s office wasn’t suggesting the incident was intentional, Jackson said, but they were saying it was reckless and negligent.
“The allegation is that he was he was extraordinarily careless,” Jackson said.
The legal plan, for now, was to make an appeal to the DA so that the situation could be resolved in terms of justice, and the family’s grief and pain, Jackson said.
“What do you do to the guy? Throw him in jail and take him from his family and remaining children again? What’s an appropriate resolution for this type of case?” Jackson said.
A judge asked that Rodriguez be put on suicide watch, Jackson said during a news conference Saturday evening.
On Aug. 1, a grand jury will decide whether to indict.
The ‘dad of all dads, father of all fathers’
Jackson said prior to being called to represent Rodriguez, the two didn’t know each other.
They do, however, share mutual friends, who described Rodriguez as the “dad of all dads, father of all fathers,” Jackson said.
In a statement provided to CNN, the mother of the twins said she was in “disbelief” about the “horrific accident.”
“Though I am 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,” she said. “I will never get over this loss, and I know he will never forgive himself for this mistake.”
Rodriguez worked at the VA hospital
Rodriguez is a social worker at the hospital, his friend, Temple Barros, 41, told CNN.
“He’s always been an amazing father. Whatever they need, he’ll go out and get it,” Barros said.
He said the family has a “very bright” older daughter. The mother is “not believing what happened,” he said. “Their parenting is amazing. I’m at a loss.”
Hospital spokesman Jim Connell confirmed Rodriguez is an employee and offered this statement:
“The entire hospital community is saddened by news of this tragic event. While the situation is currently under the jurisdiction of local authorities, we offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family.”