CROWN POINT — A Hammond mother was arraigned Friday on charges in the bludgeoning death of her 4-month-old daughter.

Lisa Marie Rodriguez, wearing handcuffs and a green jail uniform, appeared in custody Friday morning for an initial court hearing at Lake County Jail.

Magistrate Judge Natalie Bokota told the petite 25-year-old woman with auburn hair she was charged with murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death and felony battery. Rodriguez stood together with about 12 other male defendants, who were all advised of their trial rights.

Rodriguez requested a public defender. She told the court in a quiet voice she had no income or property. Bokota appointed her a public defender and scheduled a formal court appearance for Dec. 13.

Rodriguez was arrested Thursday on allegations she bludgeoned 4-month-old Brooklynn Rodriguez to death at their residence in the 4900 block of Hickory Avenue.

The child was pronounced dead about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Franciscan Health in Hammond.

Rodriguez told detectives she left her daughter with a friend Tuesday morning while running errands, but detectives learned the friend had been in the hospital for almost two weeks, records state.

The child's grandfather, who owned the home where Rodriguez lived with the child's father, said he heard Rodriguez yell at the child during the morning, then did not hear anything until about 11:30 a.m., when Rodriguez left the home with Brooklynn.

A forensic pathologist found new and old bruises on the child's torso during an autopsy. She also had several hematomas to the head and a quarter-sized fracture to the skull, records state. Her death was ruled a homicide by blunt force trauma to the head.

Brooklynn's father, Nicholas J. Bray, faces his own charges in Lake Criminal Court.

Bray, 26, was charged July 18 with felony battery and strangulation, among other offenses, on allegations he twice attacked Rodriguez earlier this year while she was pregnant with Brooklynn.

Hammond police officers dispatched July 4 to the area of the 4900 block of Hickory Avenue found Rodriguez wandering the street in a bloodied tank top, court records state.

Rodriguez told an officer she attempted to break up with Bray, and he became enraged, throwing her on a bed, repeatedly hitting her in the face, pulling her hair and twisting her leg, records state. She said he stole her phone, and when she tried to get it back, he headbutted her.

Rodriguez reported Bray also battered her March 6 after she refused sex, records state.

John Cantrell, Bray's defense attorney, said Friday Bray has maintained “from day one” he acted in self-defense.

“He woke up to her attacking him and her injuries were a result of an unprovoked assault,” Cantrell said.

Bray was previously convicted in 2012 of child molestation on allegations he sexually abused two children under the age of 14 while he was also a juvenile, records state.

Bray has a court hearing on the battery charges Jan. 9.


Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.