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Parents charged with murder in death of Rogers Park baby

AngelPetrov RigoberRodriguez

Angela Petrov and Rigoberto Rodriguez

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Updated: April 19, 2013 1:47PM

The death of a 5-month-old Rogers Park girl who was on life support after her father allegedly covered her mouth repeatedly to muffle her cries has been ruled a homicide and the baby’s parents have been charged with murder.

Angelina Rodriguez, of the 2500 block of West Fitch, was pronounced dead at Lurie Children’s Hospital at 3:36 p.m. Monday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Prosecutors originally charged her parents — Rigoberto Rodriguez, 29, and Angela Petrov, 21 — with aggravated battery after the baby was found injured April 11, in her Rogers Park home. They were ordered held in the Cook County Jail on $5 million bonds.

On Friday, the charges were upgraded to murder, and both are expected to appear in bond court again Monday, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.

An autopsy Thursday ruled Angelina’s death a homicide, caused by asphyxia from suffocation, according to the medical examiner’s office.

At a bond hearing Sunday, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Buck told Judge James Brown that on April 11 the couple was drinking Hennessy in the room where their daughter was sleeping in her playpen and the girl began to cry.

Petrov picked up the crying baby and gave her a bottle, authorities said. But the girl’s cries continued, so Rodriguez took her from Petrov and put the girl on a bed, Buck said.

Rodriguez then put his hand over the girl’s mouth to stop her from crying, Buck said. The crying stopped, and he removed his hand, but it started again, authorities said. So Rodriguez put his hand over his baby’s mouth a second time, Buck said.

Again the crying stopped, Buck said, and Rodriguez removed his hand. But the little girl only gasped for air and began to cry once more. That’s when Buck said Rodriguez put his hand over the girl’s mouth a third time until she stopped crying and her body went limp, authorities alleged.

Petrov was present each time he did this, Buck said, saw the baby go limp and did nothing. Buck said Rodriguez put the baby back in her playpen, and then the couple had sex and went to sleep.

Around 7 a.m. the next morning, Petrov got up to get another child in the home ready for school, and then she went back to sleep, Buck said.

Both parents got up around 11 a.m., and finally noticed their baby “stiff and unresponsive in the playpen,” Buck told the court.

The couple tried throwing water on the girl’s face and doing CPR, Buck said, and Petrov called 911. The girl was initially taken to Saint Francis Hospital before she was transferred to the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She suffered a “blown pupil” as a result of brain swelling, according to prosecutors.

Doctors also noticed older skull fractures while examining the girl, authorities said.

The couple was arrested later that day.

Buck said the couple gave inconsistent stories to hospital personnel. Rodriguez, who also goes by the name “Rico”, later admitted to police he put his hand over the girl’s mouth numerous times to get her to stop crying, according to the prosecutor.

Petrov admitted to police she saw Rodriguez put his hand over the girl’s mouth three times, Buck said. She also admitted she sat in a chair and watched. Medical personnel said the girl’s injuries are consistent with a hand being placed over her mouth, Buck said.

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