The mother of the twin babies who died in a hot car in the Bronx on Friday says she's living her "absolute worst nightmare"—but she's sticking by her husband, calling the deaths of little Mariza and Phoenix a "horrific accident." "Though I am hurting more than I ever imagined possible, I still love my husband," Marissa Rodriguez said in a statement Sunday, per CBS New York. "He is a good person and great father and I know he would've never done anything to hurt our children intentionally." Juan Rodriguez, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, went to his job as a social worker and left the 1-year-old twins in the car for eight hours, only discovering them when he ended his shift, prosecutors say. He told officials he thought he'd dropped them off at day care and simply "blanked out," reports the New York Times.
The 39-year-old dad of five—besides the twins, he has a 4-year-old son with his wife, as well as two older kids from a previous marriage—has been described as a doting father, with a neighbor telling the New York Post he was "always doing things with the kids." "[He's] an amazing guy," says a family friend of Rodriguez, who'd recently thrown a party with his wife to celebrate the twins' first birthday. "I need him by my side to go through this together," Marissa Rodriguez says in her statement, adding she's still in "disbelief" over the loss of her "sweet, intelligent, beautiful babies." Juan Rodriguez's lawyer said in court his client is "inconsolable," per ABC News. Juan Rodriguez posted a $50,000 cash bond and was released Saturday to the cheers of waiting family and friends, as shown in a Post video. He's due in court Thursday. (Read more hot cars stories.)