The Hudson Valley father facing manslaughter charges in the hot-car deaths of year-old twins had earlier dropped off an older child but reportedly forgot to take infants to daycare en route to work in New York City.
Juan Rodriguez, 39, of New City in Rockland County, had taken the 4-year-old son to a home in Westchester while on his way to work at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, according to WABC 7.
But Rodriguez had forgotten the twins were in their rear-facing car seats in his Honda Accord when he started his shift as a licensed clinical social worker around 8 a.m. Friday, July 26.
Temperatures hit the mid to upper 80s during the day Friday and the infants' body temperatures were 108 degrees, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said.
Rodriguez said he didn't realize he left the twins, Mariza, a girl, and Phoenix, a boy, in the car until he drove off after work at about 4 p.m. Friday, according to police. Moments later, after he pulled over, police said a passerby reported witnessing Rodriguez screaming on the side of the road at that time.
Rodriguez was taken into custody Friday and charged with two counts each of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter.
On Saturday, July 27, Rodriguez, represented by defense attorney Joey Jackson, pleaded not guilty before a judge at Bronx Criminal Court.
Rodriguez, an Iraq War veteran, cried throughout the court appearance. Rodriguez's family was escorted by police from Rockland to the Bronx.
In addition to the 4-year-old, Rodriguez and his wife have two other children, ages 16 and 12.
"He certainly understands the gravity of what occurred," Jackson said of Rodriguez. "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 due back in court this week.
This continues to be a developing story. Check back to Daily Voice for updates.
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