A Cook County judge Sunday denied bail for Martin Rodriguez, 48, who is charged with murder in the strangulation of his wife Erica, 40, and aggravated arson for setting her body and their home on fire, prosecutors allege.
The morning of the Dec. 18 fire at 152nd and Central Avenue, Martin Rodriguez waited until their three children were at school before strangling Erica, then slitting his own throat and setting the fire, according to prosecutors. Beside her body, he placed a Bible and a family photo, Assistant State’s Attorney Kim Przekota said in court.
Rodriguez survived the fire and was treated for burns and a cut to his throat. He is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated arson. He poured an unknown accelerant over her body, according to Sun-Times Media.
In the days before her death, Erica Rodriguez had been sleeping on the couch at their home on the 15200 block of Central Avenue, and had reportedly given her husband five months to leave the home.
Rodriguez initially told police an unknown intruder had attacked them inside their home. Investigators did not find signs of forced entry, and found blood in front of a sink Rodriguez claimed he never used. When police confronted Rodriguez about the conflicting evidence, he stopped the interview and invoked his right to an attorney, the prosecutor said.
The couple's three children—17-year-old Sylvia, 15-year-old Andrew and 6-year-old Gloria—are staying with family in central Illinois.
A previous wife told police that Rodriguez had tried to choke her multiple times during their marriage, and that she had walked in on him choking their infant child, Przekota told the judge.
Martin Rodriguez remained in the hospital Sunday during the hearing. He's expected to appear in court Wednesday, reports the Tribune.