Following a nine-month-long investigation, Joseph Rodriguez, 44, was arrested in Newburgh on Sunday, March 17 at approximately 5:25 p.m. and charged with second-degree murder in the June 20, 2012 bludgeoning death of two-year-old Asia Perez-Medina.
This case stems from the “grisly discovery of the child’s body at the rear of the home rented by Rodriguez, his wife and two school-aged children on Route 32 in New Paltz,” Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright stated on Tuesday.
Police initially responded to the “missing child” call at 4:30 p.m. on June 12, 2012. When they arrived, “The aunt was holding the child and the uncle was standing next to her in the front yard,” said New Paltz Police Chief Joseph Snyder. According to the chief, the “child was unresponsive when the officers arrived.”
Because the death occurred outside of a hospital setting, compounded by it being a young child with obvious injuries, the chief immediately called for an investigation into the death. The following day, an autopsy report conducted by Dr. Michael Sikirica determined the death to be a homicide due to blunt-force trauma.
The girl was identified by authorities as a citizen of the Dominican Republic who had been visiting relatives in the area, including her aunt and uncle at 332 Route 32 North in New Paltz. She was the youngest child of Katidy Medina and Cesar Perez.
According to Snyder, it was learned during the investigation that Rodriguez was a convicted felon and served several years in prison for manslaughter.
“This investigation took months and hard work by many law enforcement agencies,” said Snyder. “I am sure I speak for everyone involved in this case when I say a day has not passed where I have not thought and prayed for Asia and her family. I hope the arrest will begin the healing process for Asia’s family.”
Rodriguez was arraigned before Ulster County Court Judge Donald Williams on Tuesday and entered a plea of not guilty. He is being held without bail pending a return date of April 30.
The New Paltz Police were assisted in the investigation by the New York State Police, NYSP Troop F FIU, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Newburgh Police Department, the United States Marshal Service and the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office.