After forgetting his twin 1-year-old children in his car as he went to work, resulting in their deaths, Juan Rodriguez was charged with manslaughter, negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child. A visibly distraught Rodriguez was seen in court almost inconsolable, and his lawyer, Joey Jackson, told CNN that a judge asked for Rodriguez to be put under suicide watch while he was in jail before he was released on bail.
Rodriguez was back in court this week to answer to the charges laid against him, but according to NBC News, there will be no criminal case at this time. That doesn't mean the charges are dismissed, it means that since the district attorney has chosen to delay putting the case before the grand jury pending further investigation, the case will remain active. The prosecution, however, has been paused at this time. Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter in the deaths of his twins, Phoenix and Luna.
After leaving the courtroom with his wife and their four-year-old son, as well as Rodriguez's two children from a previous marriage, Jackson spoke to reporters about what had transpired in the court.
"Mr. Rodriguez consented to a full search of his phone, of his car," Jackson said. "He has nothing at all to harbor and hide, other than to feel misery and sorrow about what happened." Jackson also asked the district attorney to do "what we believe is the right thing, and that is, to dismiss these charges."
The organization KidsandCars.org has reported that there have already been 26 reported deaths of children from being left in hot cars so far this year. Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org released a statement regarding the Rodriguez case. "There certainly was not enough time to conduct a full and thorough investigation before six charges were levied. All indications point to a wonderful, loving father who was unaware that his twins were in his vehicle all day. Tragedies like this can and do happen to doting, responsible, loving parents."
Fennell is also calling on lawmakers to do something to help prevent more children dying from being left in hot cars. "Public awareness is not enough," the statement reads. "Children will continue to die in hot cars until technological solutions that can sense the presence of a child are standard in all vehicles." Over 900 children have died since 1990 as a result of being trapped in hot vehicles.
Juan Rodriguez is due back in court on August 27, and funeral services for Phoenix and Luna will be held this Friday.