BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A former Salem man who encouraged his girlfriend to lie to police about severe injuries to her 11-month-old son’s head, to avoid casting suspicion on him, was sentenced to serve nine months in jail yesterday.
Jose Rodriguez, 27, was charged, along with the child’s mother, Lidia Rodriguez, 22, with lying to investigators who were trying to find out how the child suffered the injuries in March 2012. Rodriguez is currently serving a sentence on unrelated drug charges.
At that time, Jose Rodriguez had been charged with assaulting the child of another girlfriend and told Lidia Rodriguez that he believed police would suspect him of injuring her son. He claimed to police that another man was alone with the child in the Loring Towers apartment when the boy was injured.
To date, no one has been charged with causing the injuries to the child, injuries doctors believe were caused by someone picking up the boy and swinging him by his hair. Lidia Rodriguez claimed to police that the boy fell onto a PlayStation console, according to police and prosecutors.
The child’s head swelled grotesquely as blood filled the space between his scalp and his skull, according to police reports.
During yesterday’s hearing in Salem District Court, Judge Michael Lauranzano asked to read the police report before he agreed to go along with the sentence that was being jointly recommended by prosecutor Patrick Collins and defense attorney Steve Reardon.
Collins expressed frustration at the inability of investigators to determine who caused the injuries because of the lack of cooperation from both the child’s mother and Jose Rodriguez.
“The bottom is, people are lying and continue to lie,” Collins said.
Reardon said his client denies injuring the baby. “He categorically denies hurting that child,” Reardon said.
The sentence includes two years in jail, of which he will serve nine months, concurrent with the drug sentence he’s already serving. The balance will be suspended for 18 months, during which Rodriguez will be on probation.
Two weeks ago, Lidia Rodriguez admitted to the same charge of lying to police. After some deliberation, Lauranzano imposed a guilty finding but not the jail time requested by prosecutors.
Her lawyer had asked that the case be continued without a finding to preserve her ability to obtain public housing. After a “sidebar” discussion with the judge, Lauranzano advised her attorney to file a motion seeking to revise the disposition within 60 days.
The attorney filed the motion two days later, on Jan. 29; it is still pending.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.