Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Colleen Romano
Eduardo Guerrero Cortez was charged with aggravated battery after allegedly holding Alexander Aburto at knifepoint June 11 at Market Place Mall in Champaign.
In a June 24 hearing in Champaign County Circuit Court, prosecutors said Cortez wielded a knife at Aburto, while he and two accomplices abducted Monica Ramirez, Aburto’s friend and Cortez’s ex-girlfriend, Monica Ramirez, in the mall.
Cortez so far has only been charged with aggravated battery for the assault on Aburto, as the circumstances of the abduction are still under investigation. Attorneys say he may still be charged in the kidnapping.
Cortez is in custody on $1 million bond and his next court date will be 9 a.m. Aug. 5. He could face two to five years in prison if convicted of the assault.
Cortez, 25, a landscaper from Houston, was present at the hearing and spoke through an interpreter. Judge John Kennedy presided and the defendant chose the aid of a public defender.
Two males, neither of whom is in custody, aided him. According to court documents, prosecutors allege that while Cortez assaulted Aburto, another man held a knife to Ramirez’s throat as he forced her into a pickup. The group escaped from Champaign and arrived in Houston a few days later.
The case was highly publicized by Champaign police to gain attention that might help find Cortez, his accomplices and Ramirez. As it became clear that the abductors had taken Ramirez out of state, the FBI was called onto the case.
On June 14 the FBI apprehended Cortez in Houston and Ramirez was found unharmed.
The relationship between Cortez and Ramirez has a history of abuse, according to court documents, with the two having had a “controlling” relationship in Houston over many years. After the relationship ended, Cortez allegedly made many threats to Ramirez, claiming that she was his and could be no one else’s. Ramirez then moved to Champaign with her two-year-old daughter to get away from Cortez.
The day of her abduction, Ramirez filed an order of protection against Cortez in Champaign County Circuit Court.