Warrant: Man charged with negligent homicide after fentanyl death of son,1
An Enfield man was arrested on Wednesday and charged with negligent homicide in connection to the death of his 1-year-old child due to fentanyl exposure in November 2021.
On Nov. 22, 2021, Lenin Rodriguez’s wife put their 1-year-old son down for a nap around 2:30 p.m. The child did not wake up for several hours and was found unresponsive when Rodriguez, 30, went to check on him, according to the arrest warrant obtained by the Courant.
The boy’s parents called 911 and administered CPR. Emergency services arrived and provided aid to the child before transporting him to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass. The boy was pronounced dead upon arrival, the warrant said.
Investigators on the scene spoke with the parents, who told them that they felt as if their son’s nap was taking too long and checked on him. Rodriguez said he thought he smelled vomit and found the child unresponsive, then the mother immediately called the police.
The attending physician at the hospital noted that there was some vomit on the boy and there was lividity and discoloration on the skin associated with the settling of blood after death along the boy’s back and hip. The doctor did not note any signs of obvious trauma, the warrant said.
Investigators met with the boy’s mother, who recounted the day leading up to her son’s death. According to the warrant, she said she had gone out with friends the night before, come home and went to bed alongside her husband. She said she had been working during the day while the boy was in the living room. When he kept crawling around, she bounced him on her leg until he fell asleep and then put him down for a nap while she went to go pick up her daughter from school.
She returned about 45 minutes later and asked Rodriguez if the boy was still sleeping, the warrant said. Rodriguez said he was, which was not unusual at that point since the baby normally took a two-hour to 2½-hour nap. The mother started to prepare dinner and then asked Rodriguez to check on him, which is when they found the boy unresponsive, according to the warrant.
The mother told investigators that the boy had no medical history, no allergies and was up to date on all vaccinations, according to the warrant. The boy was not sick recently and had not eaten any new foods.
Investigators asked her if there were any narcotics in the house and the mother said no, the couple sometimes used cannabis recreationally but that was out of reach, the warrant said.
A baby monitor in the boy’s room was checked by police, but it did not show the victim, just a corner of the crib, according to the warrant.
Rodriguez declined to be interviewed by police, the warrant said.
Three days after the boy’s death, an examination by the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Massachusetts determined the boy showed no signs of trauma or a medical condition. A toxicology report was pending at the time, the warrant said.
On Feb. 18, 2022, the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office told investigators the toxicology report had come back and showed the boy had a “lethal level of fentanyl” in his system, the warrant said.
Police interviewed the mother again on Feb. 18 and she provided the same details from the day her son died. She also told police the boy was learning to walk and was “able to pull himself up from a crawling position,” the warrant said.
Officers informed her of the toxicology report results and explained what fentanyl was to her. She denied any knowledge of opioids in the home or any knowledge of how this could have happened, the warrant said.
When asked, the mother then told investigators that Rodriguez was formerly treated for addiction to pills, had taken medications to reduce cravings and she was under the impression there was nothing in her home, according to the warrant.
According to the warrant, she told investigators that after her previous interviews, she learned her husband had some friends over while she was out the night before her son died. She said she did not know if her husband’s friends had brought anything into the home. She said she asked her husband if they had dropped something while they were over and he checked with them. He told her that they denied bringing anything into the home.
The mother did not know how fentanyl could have entered her son’s system and said Rodriguez did not tell her anything about using drugs or bringing them into the home, the warrant said.
Rodriguez again declined an interview with police on Feb. 18, the warrant said.
A worker from the Department of Children and Families then went to the home with investigators, according to the warrant. The mother allowed the worker inside the home, but not the police, the warrant said. The worker came out of the home shortly after and said the parents agreed to take a drug test at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford.
Rodriguez reportedly told the DCF worker that he had taken Suboxone, a drug used to suppress the withdrawal effects of opioid addiction, several times, the warrant said.
The couple then took the drug tests at the hospital. Investigators then obtained search warrants for the results of the tests. The mother’s test returned positives for cannabinoids, but nothing else. Rodriguez was only tested for fentanyl, and he tested positive, with a reported level of .25 ng/ml in his body, according to the warrant.
The final report from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the boy’s cause of death as “acute fentanyl intoxication” and the manner of death as “undetermined,” according to the warrant. The report included a toxicology report from the boy’s blood, reading a fentanyl level of 25 ng/ml. It also included a second toxicology report from the boy’s gastric system, showing a positive result for fentanyl with a level of 5800 ng/ml, the warrant said.
The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office told police the boy would only be able to live for “several minutes” with the amount of fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, according to the warrant.
Police obtained a warrant for Rodriguez’s arrest on Oct. 22 and charged him with criminally negligent homicide and risk of injury to a minor. He turned himself in Wednesday, according to Enfield Police Chief Alaric Fox.
Rodriguez did not have a court appearance date listed or a lawyer on file with the Hartford Superior Court Clerk’s Office as of Thursday afternoon.