Weather Updates

Baby on life support after dad tries to muffle crying: authorities


Updated: May 16, 2013 6:37AM

A five-month-old girl is on life support after her father covered her mouth repeatedly Thursday to stop her from crying before he had sex with the girl’s mother, authorities said.

Doctors also noticed older skull fractures while examining the daughter of Rodrigo Rodriguez, 29, and Angela Petrov, 21, of Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Buck said during a bond court hearing Sunday.

Buck told Cook County Judge James Brown that the couple were drinking Hennessy in the room where their daughter was sleeping in her playpen when the baby began to cry. The judge crossed his arms and shook his head as Buck explained what happened next, and he ordered both parents — each charged with aggravated battery of a child — held in lieu of $5 million bail during separate hearings.

After Rodriguez’s bond hearing, his mother, Crucita Rivera, said the allegations weren’t true. She said he suffers from bipolar disorder.

“He would never do that,” Rivera said.

Dave Clarkin, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said the couple were being investigated for an allegation of abuse involving another child based on a call received on Jan. 29. He said that investigation was still pending.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, said in this latest case, the couple were responsible for injuries so severe that the baby shows little brain activity.

On Thursday night, the family was at their home in the 2500 block of West Fitch, and Petrov picked up the crying baby and gave her a bottle, authorities said. But the girl continued crying, so Rodriguez took her from Petrov and put her on a bed, Buck said in court.

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 told the court.

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., Buck said, Petrov got up to get another child ready for school, and then she went back to sleep. Rivera said there are three children in the home, and two belong to Rodriguez.

Both parents got up around 11 am. 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, and Petrov called 911, Buck said. The baby was initially taken to Saint Francis Hospital, then was transferred to the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She suffered a “blown pupil” as a result of brain swelling, according to prosecutors.

Petrov and Rodriguez were arrested later Friday.

Buck said the couple gave inconsistent stories to hospital personnel. Rodriguez, who also goes by the name “Rico” and has the words “Trust None” tattooed on his lower left arm, admitted to police that 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 that 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.

The girl’s siblings have been removed from the couple’s home and placed in the care of a relative, Clarkin said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.