Attempted murder, torture charges added in child abuse case

Attempted murder, torture charges added in child abuse case »Play Video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Charges of attempted murder and torture have been added to a case of suspected child abusers.

Tuesday, police announced the additional charges, but relatives of one suspect said the two adults who've been arrested were actually trying to save the 5-year-old girl.

"She was taken away from her mother, her biological mother," Savannah Rodriguez told Eyewitness News. "And given to her father and my sister, with a whole bunch of problems that this little girl has. My brother-in-law and my sister are just trying to help."

She said the brother-in-law is the child's biological father.

Rodriguez identified herself as the sister of Virginia Rodriguez, 34, who was arrested along with 31-year-old Jesse Brown.

They were picked up after officers found the badly injured child on Sunday at the couple's central Bakersfield home.

The original charges were felony child endangerment, but police later announced the additional counts, saying that was based on "medical findings" and consultation with the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

Savannah Rodriguez countered Tuesday that the injured child's background should be investigated.

"The mother has been making these kids suffer since they were born, she hasn't cared," Rodriguez said. "Now they come here and my sister and her husband try to help them, and look what happens."

On Sunday, officers said they found the child unconscious, with several "life-threatening" injuries. Police said the child was first taken to a local hospital, and then transferred to Valley Children's Hospital in Madera. They said the child was suffering from blunt-force trauma.

Investigators said a second child was found at the home, and taken into protective custody.

Rodriguez identified both children as girls but didn't want to give out their ages.

"My sister and her husband have been trying to work with these little girls with therapies, psychologists," Rodriguez said. "This little girl has tried to hurt herself, and we've tried to get her help."

Rodriguez said the biological mother lives in Washington state. She wouldn't say how long the children have been with the biological father, Brown.

Police say their investigation continues, and anyone with information on the case is encouraged to call Detective Brian West at (661) 327-3558.

Eyewitness News checked Kern County court records on both Virginia Rodriguez and Brown. With Rodriguez, there's a 2003 case of driving on a suspended license, and misdemeanor fraud case from 2006. For Brown, the records show a misdemeanor vandalism charge from 2001.

Both are now set to be in court on the child abuse case on Wednesday.

As of Tuesday night, police reported the injured child is listed in critical condition at Valley Children's Hospital.