La Mesa Couple Charged With Murder After Infant Son's Suspicious Death

A La Mesa couple was recently charged with the abuse and murder of their infant son.

Parents of a La Mesa infant are in custody, accused of abuse and murder in the death of their 7-month-old son. Each is held on $2 million bail. 

This comes after La Mesa police investigated the events leading up to the infant's death.

Parents Joel Rodriguez-Brownell and Jalena Rodriguez first brought their infant son Joel, same name as his father, to the El Cajon Family Health Center on Aug. 17. Clinic staff found the infant had several suspicious injuries as well as shortness of breath, according to La Mesa Police Department.

Staff at the clinic called paramedics who immediately moved the infant to Rady Children's Hospital. Once there, hospital staff determined the infant was suffering from several serious life-threatening injuries and called El Cajon police around 10:52 a.m. 

Upon arrival, the El Cajon Police Department determined the injuries occurred at the parents' house on Rolando Knolls Drive in La Mesa. After this discovery, La Mesa Police Department Investigations Unit took over the case.

Police then arrested the infant's parents on child abuse charges and San Diego County Child Welfare Services assumed custody of infant son Joel.

Two days later on Aug. 19, the infant, Joel, died after succumbing to his injuries. 

On Aug. 21, the court charged parents Joel Rodriguez-Brownell and Jalena Rodriguez with the abuse and murder of their infant son.

A pretrial hearing will be held on Sep. 4, according to the District Attorney's office. If convicted of the murder charges, Brownell and Rodriguez could each receive sentences of 25 years to life in prison.

NBC 7's Melissa Adan spoke to neighbor Maria Sorensen who claims police have been called to the Rodriguez's house three times before these events.

La Mesa police said the case is an active investigation.

Contact Us