THE BRONX —A dad who left his 1-year-old twins in the car while he worked an eight-hour shift told NYPD officers, “I blanked out. My babies are dead. I killed my babies,” prosecutors said Saturday.
Juan Rodriguez, 39, was in tears during his arraignment and lifted his shirt several times to wipe at his face. He cried as he pleaded not guilty to two counts each of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child.
“This is a tragedy of horrific proportions,” Rodriguez’s lawyer, Joey Jackson, said. “My client, under no circumstances, meant for this to occur at all.”
Assistant District Attorney Jaime Breslin explained what happened on Friday to the judge. Rodriguez dropped his 4-year-old son off at day care and then went straight to work, arriving around 8 a.m., instead of dropping his twins off.
“He parked his car and continued about his day. Upon return to his car, approximately eight hours later at 4 p.m., he drove a couple of blocks and then realized his children were still in their car seats in the backseat,” Breslin said. “They were left in this car with no windows open for eight hours in a very hot outside air temperature. The children’s’ body temperatures were taken at the scene and read 108 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Rodriguez’ wife and other family members were in court on Saturday. The dad has strong ties to the community, his lawyer said. Rodriguez served in the military and was deployed to Jordan and Iraq. He’s now a member of the National Guard and works daily with veterans at a Bronx hospital.
“Everyone is still trying to come to grips with the horrific nature of this circumstance. Certainly his wife and his loving family support him,” Jackson said. “He’s mindful of the fact that he has to live with this every day of the rest of his life.”
Rodriguez was released late Saturday on $100,000 bail. Family members hugged him. He is due back in court Aug. 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.