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Baby-Smothering Case Brings New Charges Against Parents

By Emily Morris | April 19, 2013 2:01pm | Updated on April 19, 2013 3:46pm

CHICAGO — The parents of a 5-month-old girl who authorities said was smothered by her father have been charged with first-degree murder, prosecutors said.

Angelina Rodriguez's father Rigoberto Rodriguez, 29, and mother Angela Petrov, 21, initially were charged with aggravated battery to a child, but that was before the baby was pronounced dead Monday.

The couple were drinking in their apartment in the 2500 block of West Fitch Avenue in West Ridge on April 11 while the baby was sleeping, prosecutors said.

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

As Angelina continued to sob, Rodriguez took the infant from her mother and allegedly put his hand over the baby's mouth. The girl's mother was in the room as Rodriguez muffled the baby on and off as the infant gasped for air.

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

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

About 11 a.m. on April 12, 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 St. Francis Hospital before being transferred to Lurie Children's Hospital.

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

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 what caused the fracture.

Rodriguez and Petrov recently were engaged, according to Rodriguez's mother, Crucita Rivera.

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.

Petrov has two kids with Rodriguez and a child from another relationship, according to Rivera.

The baby's grandmother has blamed DCFS for not intervening sooner.

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

Prosecutors said Rigoberto Rodriguez eventually admitted to police that he put his hand over his infant daughter's mouth repeatedly.