NEW ULM, MN (The Journal) – Bail for a 44-year-old Sleepy Eye man accused of causing the death of an 11-week-old infant at Children’s Hospital, Minneapolis, Jan. 7, was set at $1 million without conditions and $500,000 with conditions in Brown County District Court Jan. 9.
Jose Isabel Rodriguez Limones, 318 Maple St. S.W., said to be an illegal Mexican immigrant who has been deported at least once, faces charges of second-degree murder, first and second-degree manslaughter, and first and fifth-degree assault.
The cause of death was preliminarily reported to be respiratory failure, secondary to severe traumatic brain injury, according to court documents. An autopsy will be performed, according to the Brown County Attorney’s Office.
Sleepy Eye Police talked with a Children’s Hospital social worker on Jan. 8. The worker confirmed that on Jan. 6, the victim was removed from a ventilator. The victim stopped breathing at about 12:45 a.m. Jan. 7.
Police got a fax Jan. 2 from a mandated reporter and doctor at the hospital, informing them of a possible child abuse case involving an 11-week-old child born to Christian Hinojosa and Jose Isabel Rodriguez Limones. The fax stated that the baby boy was brought to the hospital earlier that morning with seizures and was found to have extensive subdural hemorrhage and brain injury.
In addition, the fax read that there was no history of trauma to explain the findings that were highly concerning for inflicted injury and child physical abuse, specifically for abusive head trauma.
Police and Brown County Attorney Chuck Hanson determined it would be appropriate to place the victim on a 72-hour police health and welfare hold.
Police were later contacted by a Children’s Hospital social worker who talked with police, the victim’s parents and an interpreter on speaker phone. Hinojosa and Rodriguez Limones said they are the primary care givers, did not abuse the victim and nothing happened.
In an interview, the victim’s parents said they noticed the victim was not behaving normally on Dec. 25. The boy was reportedly crying more and waking up more, spat up his formula, seemed out of it and was unresponsive. At a Dec. 28 routine well-child check, the couple expressed some concerns but said that their primary care doctor reassured them all of the boy’s behavior was normal.
On the night prior to admission to Children’s Hospital, Hinojosa went to work and Rodriguez Limones was alone with the victim. He reported the victim was trembling at the time but took a bottle well, was burped and put to bed twice, then woke up and seemed very jerky. Rodriguez Limones said he took the victim to Sleepy Eye Medical Center where he was evaluated and transferred to Children’s Hospital.
An examiner noted the victim was evaluated at the Midwest Children’s Resource Center (MCRC) for possible physical abuse because of mental status changes and seizures and was found on head CT to have extensive intracranial bleeding and brain injury. The finding of subdural bleeding and brain injury are highly associated with abusive head trauma.
In addition, the examiner noted that the extent of the victim’s brain injury suggests there was at least one event that would be described as “terminal” and that would render him neurologically devastated. The examiner noted that it is likely one event occurred immediately before the victim became acutely gravely ill on Jan. 2, and possibly ongoing events occurred over the prior several days to weeks. The finding is supported by the description of him having become irritable and having a change of temperament over the weeks since Dec. 25.
The examiner concluded that some event occurred on Jan. 2 that was catastrophic.
According to statements from Hinojosa and Rodriguez Limones, the only person who was with the victim prior to, and at the time of the traumatic event, was Rodriguez Limones.
Rodriguez Limones was ordered to have no direct or indirect contact with Hinojosa. If Rodriguez Limones bails out of jail, he must pay a two-week GPS monitoring fee before he would be released.
Brown County Attorney Hanson said he considers Rodriguez Limones a significant public safety risk without significant local ties.
“He’s undocumented, in the country illegally, having been deported at least once,” Hanson said. Rodriguez Limones’ next court appearance is 8:30 a.m. Jan. 23.