Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
Bronx

Dad Who Left Infant Twins to Die in Hot Car in Bronx Pleads Guilty, Will Avoid Prison Time

The plea marks an end to the legal proceedings for Juan Rodriguez, which had dragged on and on since that nightmarish July 26 day when he drove to work and forgot his children were in the back seat

What to Know

  • Almost 11 months after a father forgot his 1-year-old twins in a car when he went to work in the Bronx, he pleaded guilty and will avoid prison time
  • Juan Rodriguez forgot his babies in his car when he went to work on July 26; when he came back eight hours later, both were dead
  • Rodriguez pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, and was sentenced to one year of conditional discharge

Almost 11 months after a New York City father forgot his 1-year-old twins in a car when he went to work last summer, leaving them long enough that they died from the extreme heat, he has pleaded guilty in their deaths.

Juan Rodriguez admitted to parking his car in his employment lot and forgetting young Luna and Phoenix were inside. The Bronx District Attorney announced Tuesday afternoon that the Rockland County man was sentenced to one year of conditional discharge after the guilty plea to second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor.

After the virtual guilty plea and sentencing, Bronx DA Darcel Clark said that the children "were strapped in their car seats throughout the hot summer day, with no windows open. These babies suffered horribly and we owed them a thorough investigation. This was a tragic, unfortunate incident. I hope that as the sweltering weather is upon us, caregivers will be extra vigilant about children in vehicles.”

The plea marks an end to the legal proceedings for Rodriguez, which had dragged on and on since that nightmarish July 26 day. He had been brought to court proceeding after court proceeding for months after the incident, as the Bronx district attorney's office deliberated having him go before a grand jury.

As the funeral was underway for twins who died after being left in a hot car in the Bronx for eight hours, legislators for the NYC Council pushed for technology in cars to prevent the same type of tragedy from happening again. NBC 4 New York’s George Spencer reports.

Rodriguez previously said he "blanked out" when he forgot to drop the babies off at day care in Yonkers that day. Eight hours later they were found dead in his parked car in the Bronx at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He drove two blocks before seeing the children unresponsive in the back seat, and frantically called his wife and 911, investigators in the case said.

The temperature inside the car, which was left in the hot sun from just after 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., reached more than 100 degrees, the investigation revealed. The body temperature of both children was 108 degrees, according to the medical examiner.

The father was potentially facing manslaughter charges. Rodriguez had been out on bail since his twins' deaths. The father, who has three other children, including a 4-year-old boy, was "extremely transparent" about what happened, his attorney previously said.

When the children were found, a sobbing Rodriguez told investigators he "blanked out, my babies are dead, I killed my babies." His lawyer says both Rodriguez and his wife, who backed him every step of the way, had committed their lives to trying to prevent other parents from making the same awful and irrevocable mistake. 

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