Cleveland Couple Sentenced For Death and Backyard Burial of 5-Year-Old Special Needs Child

click to enlarge CUYAHOGA COUNTY COURT
Cuyahoga County Court

Common Pleas Court Judge Nancy Margaret Russo broke down in tears for the first time in her career as she sentenced Larissa Rodriguez and her boyfriend Christopher Rodriguez for their roles in the death and backyard burial of their 5-year-old special needs child, Jordan.

"I know as a judge I'm not supposed to show emotion and in 22 years I never have," Russo said shortly after sentencing. "But this is one of the worst things I've ever seen in my life."

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office was unable to determine Jordan's exact cause of death, but officially ruled his death as a homicide. Jordan's corpse revealed he had previously fractured his wrist and several ribs, a likely sign of child abuse.

Larissa and Christopher Rodriguez both plead guilty on Thursday to charges of involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, child endangering and gross abuse of a corpse as part of a deal to prevent a murder trial and thereby avoiding a potential life sentence.

The couple had previously plead not guilty back in May.

This sentencing comes on the heels of last month's announcement that Larissa was sentenced to six years in prison for illegally selling nearly $10,000 worth of food stamps in collaboration with Nancy Caraballo, a social services worker with Catholic Charities.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors believe the mother made the deals so that the case worker would not report signs of abuse and neglect. Body camera footage of the Rodriguez home from the day of her arrest was released by Cleveland Police to multiple news outlets, showing clear and obvious signs of neglect.

For the charges regarding Jordan's death, Larissa Rodriguez was sentenced to 25 years in jail without the possibility of parole and Christopher Rodriguez was sentenced to the maximum of 28 years.

Larissa gave birth to her 10th child while awaiting trial for Jordan's murder, but a judge granted temporary emergency custody of the newborn to Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services. The state of Ohio already removed two of Rodriguez's children permanently before Jordan's body was uncovered. Two of her other children live with their fathers.

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