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Man charged in toddler's death faces new count of child abuse

August 4, 2011 |  5:00 pm

A Santa Ana man already accused of beating an 18-month-old girl to death will face an additional charge of child abuse for a separate incident, Orange County prosecutors said Thursday.

Juan Carlos Aguilar, 25, has been charged with murder, assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death, and child abuse in connection with the July 9 death of the toddler. 

The Orange County district attorney’s office said Thursday that Aguilar would be charged with an additional felony count of child abuse related to the alleged abuse of a 3-month-old relative in 2009. Aguilar is accused of squeezing and fracturing the ribcage of the 3-month-old. That baby survived.

In the other case, prosecutors say Aguilar squeezed the ribcage of Megan Rodriguez while the toddler was in his care. Megan was the daughter of his girlfriend’s sister. Megan’s mother was at work at the time of the incident. Aguilar’s girlfriend took their daughter, leaving Megan with Aguilar. When they came home two hours later, Megan was limp and having trouble breathing.

Rather than take the toddler to the hospital, Aguilar allegedly insisted his girlfriend not call police and instead drove Megan to the Newport Beach hotel where her mother was working before eventually taking her back to a Santa Ana hospital.

Megan was pronounced dead about 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital. Officials said she had multiple bruises and cuts to her body and face, as well as internal injuries to her lungs, liver and brain.

Aguilar was charged with murder three days later.

Aguilar is set to be arraigned Friday in Santa Ana. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. He is being held on $1 million bail.

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-- Kate Mather

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