Father Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charge in Son's Fire Death

Father Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charge in Son's Fire Death

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- A man whose 3-year-old son died when left alone in an apartment that caught fire has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of third-degree felony child abuse homicide.

Carlos Socrates Rodriguez, 24, originally had been charged with second-degree felony child abuse homicide in the April 22 fire in Ogden that claimed the life of his son, Eduardo.

The charge was reduced in a plea bargain, and 2nd District Judge Parley Baldwin on Monday set sentencing for May 26.

Rodriguez has lived in the United States most of his life but is undocumented and likely faces deportation to native Mexico upon completion of his sentence.

Defense attorney Roy Cole said, "He made a huge mistake. You just don't leave a 3-year-old alone. But how many parents haven't left a child at home alone, even just to step outside, go mow the lawn, whatever. ... It's a sad case."

Rodriguez admitted in testimony at his preliminary hearing that he had left the boy alone in the apartment about 9:45 that night. He left to try to reconcile with a girlfriend who had moved out four days earlier.

Firefighters were called at 10:07 p.m. and arrived to find smoke billowing out of the basement apartment.

Rodriguez returned shortly before 11 p.m. to find his son dead and fire and police officials waiting to question him.

The fire, of unknown cause, started in the living room and most of the damage was in the living room-kitchen area, officials said earlier.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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