Five-Month-Old Baby Who Authorities Say Was Smothered by Father Dies

By Emily Morris and Tanveer Ali  on April 15, 2013 6:48pm  | Updated on April 15, 2013 7:20pm

CHICAGO — A 5-month-old baby who authorities said was smothered by her father has died.

Angelina Rodriguez was pronounced dead at Lurie Children's Hospital at 3:36 p.m. Monday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

She died of suspected child abuse, the office said.

Angelina's father Rigoberto Rodriguez, 29, and mother Angela Petrov, 21, appeared in court Sunday on aggravated battery to a child charges.

"My son is not a murderer," said Rodriguez's mother, Crucita Rivera, before Angelina was pronounced dead Monday.

Prosecutors said Rodriguez tried muffling Angelina's crying by smothering her as Petrov watched at their apartment in the 2500 block of West Fitch Avenue in West Ridge.

The couple placed the baby in a playpen, had sex and went to bed, prosecutors said.

The couple were drinking in their apartment on Thursday evening while the baby was sleeping, prosecutors said.

As the girl began to cry, Petrov picked the baby up and gave her a bottle, Buck said.

As Angelina continued to sob, Rodriguez took the infant from her mother and put his hand over the baby's mouth, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said the girl's mother was in the room as Rodriguez muffled the baby on and off as she gasped for air.

The third time Rodriguez covered his daughter's mouth, the baby went limp, according to prosecutors.

At about 11 a.m. Friday, Rodriguez and Petrov noticed Angelina was stiff and unresponsive in the playpen, prosecutors said. The couple threw water on the girl's face and tried to perform CPR. Petrov eventually called 911.

Angelina was first taken Saint Francis Hospital before being transferred to Lurie Children's Hospital.

The baby suffered brain swelling due to the smothering and was on life support with limited or no brain activity, prosecutors said. Doctors also noted that the baby had a skull fracture from a previous incident, prosecutors said. It was unclear how the fracture happened.

Rodriguez and Petrov, who were recently engaged, according to Rivera, were arrested later on Friday.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was investigating both Rodriguez and Petrov for neglect and abuse after receiving a hotline call on Thursday, agency spokesman Dave Clarkin said. The couple's other children have been placed with a family member, Clarkin said.

DCFS began an investigation into the parents after Jan. 29, when they received a hotline call that a different child was being abused, Clarkin said.

But DCFS did not remove the couple's other kids from the Far North Side home until last week's incident. The baby's siblings are in the care of a relative, Clarkin said. Petrov has two kids with Rodriguez and a child from another relationship, according to Rivera.

Rivera blamed DCFS for not intervening sooner.

"DCFS knew there was something going on," Rivera said.

Prosecutors said Rodriguez eventually admitted to cops that he put his hand over the baby's mouth repeatedly, and Petrov allegedly told police that she watched as it happened.

Cook County Judge James Brown ordered each parent held in lieu of $5 million bail on Sunday.

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