LAKELAND, Fla. (WSVN) — Police arrested a couple accused of leaving their 18-month-old toddler inside a car overnight after returning home from a night of partying.

Polk County Sheriff’s detectives have arrested Joel and Jazmine Rondon, both 33 years old and residents of Winchester Estates Circle in Lakeland, on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child. The child, still strapped into her car seat, succumbed to the extreme heat and passed away the following day.

According to the news release, on July 4, the Rondons attended a Fourth of July celebration in Lakeland along with three other children under the age of 9. They did not arrive home until approximately 3:00 a.m. on July 5, having consumed alcohol and marijuana during the party. Upon their return, Jazmine instructed Joel to bring the female toddler inside while she took the other two children indoors. Joel noticed that one of the car doors was open but assumed Jazmine had already taken the toddler out. Without confirming with each other, they went to bed.

Joel woke up around 10:00 a.m. and spent about an hour preparing for work. Around 11:00 a.m., he asked one of the children to check on the baby in the bedroom. The child informed Joel that the baby was not there, prompting him to search the house. Eventually, he went outside and discovered the toddler still strapped in her car seat inside the Hyundai Elantra parked in the driveway, exposed to the intense sunlight. In a panic, Joel brought the unresponsive child, still in the car seat, into the house before he and Jazmine rushed her to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.

Despite attempts to cool the child’s body and provide medical intervention, the toddler was pronounced deceased. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was hyperthermia due to being left in the car, ruling it a homicide. The child’s internal body temperature was recorded at 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit at 2:42 p.m. Medical staff at LRH notified law enforcement, leading to the initiation of the investigation.

Later that evening, Joel and Jazmine underwent drug screenings administered by the Department of Children and Families. Joel tested positive for methamphetamine, marijuana, and alcohol, while Jazmine tested positive for marijuana and alcohol.

On July 6, 2023, Joel and Jazmine were taken into custody and subsequently booked into the Polk County Jail.

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