For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN SENTENCED TO 31 YEARS TO LIFE IN STATE PRISON FOR BEATING-MURDER OF 18-MONTH-OLD TODDLER AND SIMILAR 2009 CHILD ABUSE OF 3-MONTH-OLD RELATIVE
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to 31 years to life in state prison for the beating-murder of his girlfriend’s sister’s 18-month-old daughter and abusing another child in a similar way in 2009. Juan Carlos Aguilar, 27, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury Aug. 5, 2013, of one felony count of murder, one felony count of assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death, and two felony counts of child abuse.
In July 2011, Aguilar lived in a Santa Ana apartment with his girlfriend, their 3-year-old daughter, his girlfriend’s sister, and her 18-month-old daughter Megan Rodriguez.
At approximately 7:00 a.m. on July 9, 2011, Rodriguez’s mother left the apartment to go to work at a Newport Beach hotel. At approximately 8:30 a.m., Aguilar’s girlfriend left to go to the market with their 3-year-old daughter. Aguilar remained at home with the 18-month-old toddler and was solely responsible for her care.
While alone with the little girl, Aguilar assaulted the victim with great force by squeezing her ribcage with his hands. The defendant caused multiple traumatic injuries to the victim, including bruises and lacerations to her body and face, and internal injuries to her lungs, liver, and brain.
At approximately 10:30 a.m., Aguilar’s girlfriend and daughter returned from the store to find the victim limp and having trouble breathing. Aguilar insisted that his girlfriend not call the police and instead drove the victim from Santa Ana to the Newport Beach hotel where her mother worked.
After picking up Rodriguez’s mother, Aguilar drove with the women to take the victim to Santa Ana Coastal Community Hospital. Rodriguez had shallow breath and a slight pulse upon arrival. She was pronounced dead approximately 15 minutes later.
The defendant was charged with the murder by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) on July 12, 2011. As part of the OCDA’s ongoing investigation, it was determined that Aguilar was involved in another case in 2009. The defendant abused a 2-month-old female relative by squeezing and fracturing her rib cage, similar to the assault of Rodriguez. The baby in this case survived her injuries.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Susan Price of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.