A Rockland County father died after forgetting his 1-year-old twins in his car, pleading guilty Tuesday to reckless endangerment – but escaping from prison.
Juan Rodriguez, 39, was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and misconduct during a virtual trial before Bronx Criminal Court Judge Jeffrey Rosenbluth.
The judge sentenced him to a conditional discharge, which could be revoked if he was arrested within the next year.
Rodriguez, an Iraq war veteran, was initially charged with two counts of murder and criminal negligence for leaving his son Phoenix and daughter Luna inside his parked Honda Accord as he shot eight hours in the sun in the Bronx last July.
“I killed my children!” Rodriguez broke into police when he learned he had forgotten to leave his hats at day care before working a shift at the Bronx Veterans Affairs Hospital, police sources said.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark weighs whether the jury should seek indictment, but the case has been postponed several times.
Rodriguez is free on $ 100,000 bail, and his lawyers have previously said he would not accept a plea deal.
But he was eventually “charged with being able to get on with his life and get behind him,” his lawyer said Tuesday.
“Ms. Rodriguez and his family continue to heal and work to the day that all children in hot cars are kept safe,” Joey Jackson said in a statement.
“We appreciate that District Attorney Clark and her staff are committed to reaching a fair and appropriate resolution in this case.”
Rodriguez and his wife, Marissa, are working on a foundation to raise awareness about hot car deaths and prevent future tragedies.
“His precious twins Luna and the Phoenix legacy live on in the work they do to help so many people,” Jackson said.
Clark said in a statement that he hopes the case will alert other parents this summer.
“It’s a tragic, unfortunate incident. Since the weather is upon us, I hope the guardians will be extra vigilant to the children in the vehicles, ”she said.