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Florida couple arrested after child left in car-seat overnight suffers ‘torturous death’

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A Polk County husband and wife were arrested Thursday after deputies say they left a toddler in their car overnight.

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According to the sheriff’s office, Joel and Jazmine Rondon, both 33 years old, were at an Independence Day celebration in Lakeland with their three children on July 4 and didn’t return to their home on Winchester Estates Circle until approximately 3 a.m. the next morning.

Deputies say the couple began to unload their car when Jazmine told Joel to bring the 18-month-old baby inside while she took the other two children into the home.

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According to the sheriff’s office, Joel noticed that one of the car doors was open as he took more items into the house, and said all four doors were closed when he went back outside, leading him to believe Jazmine had already removed the toddler from the car.

Deputies say Joel and Jazmine- who each consumed alcohol and marijuana at the celebration- then went to sleep without asking each other if either of them had brought the baby inside.

According to the sheriff’s office, Joel woke up at approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday and asked one of the other children to “Check on the baby” in the bedroom, but the child told Joel the baby wasn’t there.

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That’s when deputies say Joel looked around the house for the baby before going outside and finding the toddler still strapped in her car-seat in the car which had been parked in the driveway fully exposed to the sun.

Joel and Jazmine took the baby to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Despite efforts to cool her body, the toddler was pronounced dead just before 3 p.m. According to the sheriff’s office, the child had an internal body temperature of 104.4 degrees when she died.

Later that night, both Joel and Jazmine submitted to drug screens by the Florida Department of Children and Families. At that time, Jazmine still tested positive for both marijuana and alcohol while Joel tested positive for marijuana, alcohol, and methamphetamine.

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Both Joel and Jazmine Rondon were charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, a first-degree felony.

Joel Rondon also has a prior criminal history that includes arrests for attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to the sheriff’s office, the couple’s other two children are with other relatives.

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