New York City

No Grand Jury Action Leaves NYC Dad Who Left Twin Toddlers in Hot Car, Where They Died, in Limbo

An attorney for Juan Rodriguez has said the tearful father made a tragic mistake and should not be prosecuted

What to Know

  • The dad accused in the deaths of his 1-year-old twins after he said he blanked out and forgot them in the car left court unindicted Tuesday
  • There's been no grand jury action in case of Juan Rodriguez; he was initially charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide
  • His attorney calls the twins' deaths a tragic mistake and said his client and family have dedicated their lives to preventing similar cases

The Bronx father accused of leaving his 1-year-old twins to die in a hot car last month -- a devastating case his attorney has described as a tragic mistake -- left court for the second time in weeks without being indicted Tuesday. 

No grand jury action has been taken in the case of Juan Rodriguez, who left his babies in a car in a parking lot when he went to work July 26 as temperatures soared, but the legal proceedings are not yet over. Rodriguez's attorney Joey Jackson says discussions are ongoing with the district attorney's office. 

He wants the case dropped; Rodriguez has been out on bail since his twins Phoenix and Luna died. The father, who has three other children, including a 4-year-old boy, waved his right to a speedy trial last month, and his lawyer pointed to that and other examples again Tuesday as he said his client "from the outset has been extremely transparent" about what happened. 

When the children were found, a sobbing Rodriguez told investigators he "blanked out, my babies are dead, I killed my babies" when he forgot them in the car that day in July. The 39-year-old social worker could face two counts of manslaughter and two counts of negligent homicide should a grand jury consider the charges. That hasn't happened yet. 

The Bronx district attorney's office confirmed Tuesday there had been no grand jury action at this time and said the investigation was ongoing. Rodriguez is due back in court at the end of September. 

Neither he nor his family spoke after Tuesday's brief hearing; they stood behind Rodriguez's attorney, the mother who lost her two youngest children seen cradling her 4-year-old son. Marissa Rodriguez had come to her husband's defense immediately after the children died, saying he's a great person and a great father and she knew he never would have hurt them intentionally. On either side of the couple -- Rodriguez's 12- and 16-year-old children.

Jackson said the family has undergone counseling -- as a family, as a couple and individually -- as they work to try to begin to heal the gaping wounds in their hearts. While their treatment is deeply personal, they have no secrets -- and they want people to know that anyone experiencing such a traumatic experience as they have should not be afraid to seek help. 

They also want to give help, Jackson said. The lawyer said the Rodriguez family is developing a foundation both to honor the legacy of the twins and to raise awareness of hot car deaths -- and help prevent future tragedies from occurring.

There's an average of 38 heat-related deaths of children locked in cars nationwide per year, according to, a website that tracks the deaths. Jackson says 12 children have died in hot cars in just the two months since Rodriguez, by his own admission, left his twins in his vehicle. 

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