Dad whose infant twins died in hot car is ‘devastated’ attorney says

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Juan Rodriguez, left, who spent much of his first court appearance in tears, pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide after his 1-year-old twins died in a hot car after forgetting to drop them off at day care on Friday, July 27, 2019.
(Photo from ABCNews.com; WABC-TV)

(ABC NEWS) – The attorney for the Bronx father whose infant twins died after being left in a hot car says that his client is “devastated.”

Juan Rodriguez, the father of 1-year-old twins who died after he said he accidentally left them in his car all day while he was at work, has entered a not guilty plea to charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

“As you might imagine, Mr. Rodriguez, his lovely wife Marissa, the entire Rodriguez family, as well as the community, are devastated by this tragic and horrific set of circumstances,” Rodriguez’s attorney Joey Jackson said in a statement.

Juan Rodriguez’s wife Marissa released a statement for the family, saying that they are “grieving and completely devastated at this time.”

“This is my absolute worst nightmare. Everything I do reminds me of my sweet, intelligent, beautiful babies and I am still in disbelief,” she said in the statement.

“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. I will never get over this loss and I know he will never forgive himself for this mistake,” Marissa Rodriguez said in the statement.

“This was a horrific accident, and I need him by my side to go through this together. Luna and Phoenix will always live in our hearts and memories and we are working hard to come to terms with what has happened. We need to grieve, be strong, and be present for our other children,” the statement reads.

Juan Rodriguez, 39, was ordered held on $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. Rodriguez was able to make bail, and was released following the court appearance.

Rodriguez, from Rockland County, just north of New York City, dropped his 4-year-old son off at a home in Westchester, New York, on Friday before driving to work as a licensed clinical social worker at James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx. Rodriguez told police he forgot his 1-year-old twins were strapped into their rear-facing car seats when he arrived for work at 8 a.m.

When he returned to his car eight hours later to drive home, he “observed Luna and Phoenix in the above reference vehicle, strapped into their car seats, not moving, not breathing and both children appeared lifeless,” according to court documents.

Rodriguez called 911, but the children were pronounced dead on the scene at 4:10 p.m.

The children’s body temperatures were 108 degrees, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

“I assumed I dropped them off at daycare before I went to work,” Rodriguez told officers who arrived on the scene, according to court documents. “I blanked out. My babies are dead; I killed my babies.”

Rodriguez did not speak during his court appearance Saturday evening, but his lawyer called the children’s deaths “a tragedy of horrific proportions.”

“Certainly it’s unimaginable, and at the time that I had occasion to speak to my client last night … he was inconsolable,” his lawyer, Joey Jackson, said in court. “He obviously is still in that state of mind. … My client, under no circumstances, meant at all for this to occur. My client is married, his wife is here, in addition to numerous other family members, judge, who support him and love him dearly.”

“There’s nothing here at all that is intentional and my client, if he could bring back time, certainly he would do that,” Jackson continued. “I think in this world in which we live with so many, perhaps too many, distractions it just didn’t have to happen. It did and it’s most regrettable.”

Rodriguez, who works with veterans as a social worker, also is a member of the military and served in Iraq. His lawyer said he was injured during his tour, but is still a member of the National Guard.

He also has two older children, a 16-year-old and 12-year-old.

Rodriguez is also facing two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Family and friends greeted the father when he was released from custody Saturday evening. He was met with cheers and several hugs as he was ushered into a car.

“He’s mindful that he has to live with this for the rest of his life,” Jackson added.

ABC News’ Ben Stein and Meghan Keneally contributed to this report.


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