The father whose 1-year-old twins died when he mistakenly left them for eight hours in his car on a hot day was ordered to return to court for another hearing on Aug. 27, New York prosecutors said on Thursday, Aug. 1.
Last Friday afternoon, 39-year-old Juan Rodriguez, who is a licensed clinical social worker, had already pleaded not guilty after being charged with manslaughter in the death of his twins Luna and Phoenix.
However, Rodriguez, on appearing in court at the Bronx Hall of Justice with his wife, Marissa, and their 4-year-old son on Thursday, was told that prosecutors had decided to put off presenting evidence to a grand jury, pending further investigation and he was ordered to return to court for another hearing on Aug. 27.
On behalf of his client, Joey Jackson, Rodriguez’s attorney issued an appeal to Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, claiming that it was the right thing to dismiss the charges and Rodriguez has been truthful with investigators and “has nothing to harbor and hide other than misery and sorrow.”
“We understand that they will continue to evaluate all aspects of the case and we welcome their evaluation of that. We believe that at the conclusion of them evaluating all the facts, all the evidence and everything in this case, they will come to the conclusion that this was a horrible tragedy,” Jackson said.
Being asked about Rodriguez, his wife, Marissa, called her husband a “good person and a great father, who would have never done anything to hurt their children intentionally.”
“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 happened. We need to grieve, be strong, and be present for our other children,” she added.
So far, at least 24 children have died in hot cars across the country this year, according to national nonprofit KidsAndCars.org. Suffering from their loss, Jackson said Rodriguez and his family would want to work with state lawmakers on legislation requiring auto manufacturers to come up with a mechanism to alert people that children are in car seats before they exit their vehicles.
“Mr. Rodriguez and his family will certainly be dedicating their lives to the cause of assuring this does not happen to anyone else,” Jackson said, “My client and his family will be working with the legislature when they gain the strength to do so in ensuring that other people are protected.”