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Man charged with murder says he was beaten by jail guards

AngelPetrov RigoberRodriguez

Angela Petrov and Rigoberto Rodriguez

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Updated: May 24, 2013 6:22AM

A West Rogers Park man charged with fatally smothering his 5-month-old daughter earlier this month claims he has been beaten by guards at the Cook County jail.

Rigoberto Rodriguez, 29, and Angela Petrov, 21, of the 2500 block of West Fitch, have been charged with the first-degree murder of their daughter, Angelina Rodriguez, and appeared before Cook County Judge Israel Desierto for a bond hearing Monday.

The couple had previously been charged with aggravated battery of a child before the baby died. Cook County Judge James Brown ordered them held in lieu of $5 million bail April 14 after those charges were filed. Prosecutors added the murder charges late last week, after the baby’s death on April 15.

Rodriguez shook his head during Monday’s hearing as a prosecutor again explained to the judge how Rodriguez is accused of repeatedly covering his daughter’s mouth April 11 to stop her from crying. He and Petrov had been drinking in the room where the child was sleeping in her playpen at the family’s home, according to prosecutors.

A prosecutor again told the judge how Petrov tried to comfort the crying girl with a bottle. When that didn’t work, she said Rodriguez put the child on a bed and covered her mouth three times to stop her from crying. The third time she went limp and the crying stopped, the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors also have said that Petrov watched and did nothing. The couple had sex and went to bed, prosecutors said, and they allegedly realized the child was “stiff and unresponsive” the next morning. Petrov called 911.

George Zuganelis, Rodriguez’s attorney, told the judge his client has been beaten by guards while incarcerated.

“His life is in danger at the jail because of the charge alleged against him,” Zuganelis said.

The judge peered at Rodriguez and said he saw “no indication of what he alleges.”

Late Monday afternoon, Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department said: “Mr. Rodriquez’s allegations are baseless. He was provided a protective custody housing assignment the same day his request was made.”

Meanwhile, Marijane Placek, the public defender representing the mother, sought to put her client on suicide watch and said, “her actions were one of omission at best.”

Petrov appeared to be sobbing during Monday’s hearing and Placek tried to comfort her, patting her hand on her client’s arm.

The judge ordered Rodriguez held in lieu of $1.5 million bail and Petrov in lieu of $500,000, and he prohibited them from having contact with Angelina Rodriguez’s 6-year-old sibling, who is a potential witness in the case.

Prosecutors said doctors found older skull fractures on the 5-month-old when she arrived at the hospital this month.

A child welfare spokesman said Angelina’s two siblings have been placed with licensed foster families.

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