A Chicago infant is brain-dead and on life support after her father smothered her last week in an attempt to stop her crying, according to court records and prosecutors.
Rigoberto "Rico" Rodriguez, 29, and Angela Petrov, 21, the parents of the 5-month-old girl were both charged with aggravated battery to a child younger than 13 years old resulting in permanent disability in connection with an incident Thursday at the couple’s home in the West Ridge neighborhood, according to court records.
They were both ordered held in lieu of $5 million bail in a hearing in Cook County Bond Court Sunday. The couple had an abuse allegation lodged against them in January with the Department of Children and Family Services, but the infant and two siblings were not removed from their parents' care until after the smothering allegation.
The infant suffered brain swelling because of a lack of oxygen, according to court records, and she is currently on life support with limited or no brain activity.
Doctors also noted a blown pupil caused by brain swelling, according to court records, as well as skull fractures that are believed to be from a prior, unrelated incident.
The baby was sleeping in her playpen at the couple’s home on the 2500 block of West Fitch Avenue on Thursday, according to court documents.
Rodriguez and Petrov were drinking liquor in the room where the baby was sleeping when the girl woke and started crying, court records state.
After Petrov tried giving the baby a bottle and she continued to wail, the mother set her on the bed, according to court documents.
At that point, Rodriguez put his hand over the baby’s mouth to stop her from crying, according to court records.
It worked, but then the infant started crying again, court records state, and Rodriguez put his hand over her mouth again. The baby gasped for air after he lifted his hand a second time, but then she started crying again, according to court records.
The baby's body went limp after Rodriguez put his hand over her mouth for a third time, court records state.
Petrov was present and did nothing, according to court records.
Rodriguez then put the infant back into her playpen, and the couple went to sleep, according to court records.
Petrov woke around 7 a.m. Friday and got another child in her home ready for school before she went back to sleep, according to court documents.
Rodriguez and Petrov both re-awoke at 11 a.m. and found the baby stiff and unresponsive in her playpen, according to court records.
They tried to revive the baby by throwing water in her face and administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation before Petrov called 911, according to court records.
The girl was initially taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston before being moved to Lurie Children’s Hospital because of the serious nature of her injuries, according to court records.
Rodriguez and Petrov gave different stories to hospital personnel regarding how the infant was injured, according to court records.
Both were arrested Friday at Lurie Children’s Hospital, court records state.
Rodriguez told police he had put his hand over the baby’s mouth to stop her from crying, according to court records. Petrov admitted to police that she sat in a chair and watched Rodriguez put his hand over the infant’s mouth three times, and admitted to having seen the baby stop struggling after his third attempt.
Medical personnel noted the baby’s injuries were consistent with a hand being placed over the mouth and blocking the airway, according to court records.
A 6-year-old sibling of the baby’s told investigators that Rodriguez had placed his hand over the mouth of the victim as a method to quiet her, court records state.
DCFS spokesman Dave Clarkin said Sunday afternoon that the baby’s two siblings had been removed from the home and placed in the care of a relative.
Clarkin said both parents were being investigated on charges of abuse and neglect in response to a hotline call placed on Thursday.
He said the couple were already being investigated for an allegation of abuse involving a different child in response to another hotline call that the department received on Jan. 29.
“That investigation is still pending,” he said.
Rodriguez has eight prior domestic battery arrests and was convicted on a domestic battery charge in 2003, Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Buck told Bond Court Judge James Brown. He was given 18 months court supervision, and an order of protection was entered in the case that expired in 2005. In a 2006 domestic violence case, another order of protection was entered against him.
Rodriguez was also convicted in 2008 on a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, Buck said.
Petrov has no criminal background, Buck said.
If they make bail, Rodriguez and Petrov were ordered to stay away from where the infant is being cared for and to have no contact with anyone younger than 18, according to court records.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun