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Archive for Friday, February 26, 2010

Judge gives convicted rapist maximum prison sentence despite plea agreement

February 26, 2010

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Alejandro Cortez

Alejandro Cortez

A Douglas County District Court judge ignored the recommendations of a plea agreement and instead handed down the maximum sentence Friday to a man convicted of raping a Kansas University graduate student outside of a Lawrence bar last August.

Alejandro Perez Cortez will serve nearly 14 years in prison for the attack on a 23-year-old woman as she was leaving Wilde’s Chateau, 2412 Iowa.

The victim addressed her attacker directly, explaining how the incident devastated her life.

“Every day since you raped me I’ve been afraid,” she told Cortez through an interpreter. “You made my worst fear in life a reality.”

The victim said since that night, she has bought a German Shepherd and started carrying a knife. She said she’s afraid to walk in large parking lots and her heart races every time she approaches her car.

She told Cortez that even though the attack lasted only 30 minutes, the effects will last her entire life.

“Because you raped me, the state of Kansas is sentencing you to prison,” she said. “But because you raped me, I am serving a life sentence.”

Judge Peggy Kittel praised the victim, who was able to collect evidence during the rape which eventually led to the conviction. During the attack she stole the suspect’s wallet and attempted to obtain his DNA by scratching him and ripping off a necklace he was wearing.

“I’ve never seen a victim be able to keep their wits about them,” Kittel said at the conclusion of the sentencing.

Cortez, who has no previous criminal record, did not comment. He broke down in tears as the victim read her statement.

Cortez pleaded guilty to the charge in December and as part of the plea agreement an aggravated kidnapping charge was dropped. Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney had agreed to recommend Cortez receive the standard sentence of 155 months.

Due to the nature of the crime, Kittel opted for the aggravated sentence of 165 months.

Cortez, who will be required to register as a sexual offender, faces the possibility of deportation after serving his sentence.

Comments

parrothead8 4 years, 9 months ago

The victim of this crime did a magnificent, courageous thing with her statement in court. Way to go, girl.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

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Richard84 4 years, 9 months ago

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LiberalDude 4 years, 9 months ago

edjayhawk- This is not an immigration issue. Sadly, many American citizens commit rape, too. Most undocumented immigrants do not commit crimes. This being said, he should be deported after he serves his time.

I echo the comments of those praising the victim. She is such a brave young woman! I wish her all the best in life!

frank mcguinness 4 years, 9 months ago

WOW edjayhawk great time to throw your personal beliefs into the ring you loser.

1 I hope this guy get back 100 fold what he did to this young lady while he's in jail. Bubba will show him what its like to be abused and raped.

2 Immigration has nothing to do with rape. I'd say without looking at statistics that 95% of u.s. rapes are from u.s. citizens?

3 I just read yesterday about a dr. from oklahoma who was caught on nightline going to cambodia to have sex with little girls under 14. So americans can be monsters like this mexican guy.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 9 months ago

@ edjayhawk, you're got to be kidding me.

This story has to do with 1 specific person, Perez Cortez.

This has nothing to do with immigrants in general. Surely you know that Americans commit violent crimes too.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 9 months ago

Next I hope she sues Wilde’s Chateau. It did happen on their property.

KcSlumper 4 years, 9 months ago

And, how much does it cost a year to keep a person in prison?

I guess not that much if you compare it to what the victim has and will pay! I too wish the very best for her.

LiberalDude, You said.....Most undocumented immigrants do not commit crimes........Hummm, It IS a crime to be here undocumented! RIGHT!

puddleglum 4 years, 9 months ago

another great reason to vote for puddleglum for govenor of kansas.

once I am in office-everyone will take an IQ test. If you have an IQ of 110 or lower-free and mandatory sterlization. that means that in the future, we won't have these type of perps in our population.

oh yeah, immediate and mandatory deportation of all illegals.

kneejerkreaction 4 years, 9 months ago

This woman needs to get a concealed carry permit and carry a small handgun.

lindseydoyle 4 years, 9 months ago

I hope he makes someone(s) a wonderful wife.

afraidnot 4 years, 9 months ago

Hurray for the judge? Unfortunately her decision discourages plea negotiations and agreements. While judges can always choose not to follow the plea, it is disheartening to see it done. Why should defendants accept a plea if the judge isn't going to follow it? Might as well take your chances at trial. Now, more cases will go to trial, which is about 100X more traumatic for the victim. A free for all during sentencing is not quite the the same as being cross-examined by a defense attorney in front of a jury.

MyName 4 years, 9 months ago

@Nurnberg:

Or maybe they're just sensitive to flame bait from morons who have nothing better to do with their time than post their drivel on ljworld.com

benanhalt 4 years, 9 months ago

Can't we please just get rid of plea agreements?

jayhawkca 4 years, 9 months ago

@cheeseburger, although this case may seem like a slam dunk, a conviction is never certain. There is no definition of "reasonable doubt" explained to jurors so it would be entirely possible for one juror to say, "Well, we don't have video from inside the car so it's really a he said-she said case. Yes, there was DNA evidence but there would have been DNA had it been consensual. Maybe he left his wallet. I can't say without a reasonable doubt that he committed a crime." Although the risk of that happening seems small, it is still something to consider. Had the case gone to trial, he might have been convicted of both rape and kidnapping and served consecutive or concurrent sentences. The former would not be guaranteed, and the risk would be a hung jury or a result of not guilty on either or both of the charges. Given that it wasn't the traditional bound-and-gagged, hostage-type kidnapping situation, it is possible that a jury would have found him not guilty on that charge, in which case the sentence would have been the same as it was with the plea. A lot of thought went into the decision to accept a plea agreement.

I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but the DA consults with the victim before a plea agreement is made. This was not a "failure" to take a slam-dunk case but, rather, it was a difficult decision that took much consideration. The DA's office did a fabulous job with this case and represented the state - and the victim - well.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

cheeseburger, I'm not sure what result you think would have been achieved at a trial that would have been any different. The man pled guilty to a severity level 1 felony. He couldn't have gotten anything higher. That's the highest level of felony there is in Kansas. His sentencing range was dictated by his criminal history. Each grid box offers 3 possible numbers: the standard, the aggravated, and the mitigated. The range here is a difference of 10 months up or down. By statute, the sentence is supposed to be the standard unless the case is extraordinary. The DA agreed to the standard sentence of 155. I don't know why you would fault the DA for agreeing to the sentence that the statute calls for.

It isn't ridiculous to play the "trials are expensive" card, by the way. By getting a plea to a top charge, the DA saved this county a lot of money. The DA could hardly be said to have sacrificed anything in the way of the county's safety as the defendant pled to the highest level of felony available, will serve over a decade in prison, and will be subject to offender registration requirements for the rest of his life. (Not to mention he will probably be deported anyway.)

Restitution for trial costs is a pipe dream. No incarcerated defendant could ever pay for all of those costs. (It would be tens of thousands of dollars to pay the salary for a week of the attorneys, the judge, the judge's assistant, the bailiff, etc.)

The only thing the state gave up in this plea agreement was the hope of convicting the guy of aggravated kidnapping on top of the rape. But as we all know from the Jaeger case, the kidnapping charge was not close to a sure thing.

This plea is a great outcome.

afraidnot 4 years, 9 months ago

Maybe a plea never should have been offered. I sure don't know the circumstances of it all. What matters is that a plea WAS offered. What happens in the next case in front of this judge where a plea is appropriate, where the victim isn't willing to do whatever is necessary and just wants him to go to jail and move on with her life, but the defendant is thinking..."wait a minute, no point in taking a plea if the judge won't follow it"? There are a lot of reasons why pleas are a good thing. They tend to be beneficial to both parties, as most negotiations are. No one wants to negotiate out a deal if in the end you did all the giving and none of the taking.

Now what the article isn't clear on (maybe someone from LJ World can clear this up) is what charges he faced and what he actually pled to. It says at first he'll serve 14 years. I assume he pled to a rape charge? At the end it says they dropped the agg kidnapping, instead he pled to the "standard sentence", but the judge opted for the "agg sentence" of 165 months. So was he sentenced for rape and agg kidnapping, his original charges? Or just kidnapping, but the judge increased to agg kidnapping? Isn't very clear, and certainly that knowledge would make a difference regarding how far exactly the judge strayed from the plea.

jayhawkca 4 years, 9 months ago

Well said, ebyrdstarr.

afraidnot, the original charges were rape and kidnapping. The kidnapping charge was dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to the rape charge. The plea agreement was for 155 months and the judge gave him the aggravated sentence of 165 months, the maximum for a level 1, non-drug felony when the defendant has no criminal history.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 9 months ago

I commend this woman's forethought and bravery both during and after the attack. I truly hope that with time and counseling she heals. I also hope that her dog becomes her pet and companion as well as her protector. Let him perimeter check as much as he wants (and he will) :) In the end his love will be your best protection. As for the plea bargain, I doubt adding 10 months to a 13 year sentence that is probably going to be cut in half by parole is going to do much in the way of deterring the whole plea bargain process.

jayhawkca 4 years, 9 months ago

In Kansas, the maximum time off for good behavior is 15% of the sentence.

benanhalt 4 years, 9 months ago

«There are a lot of reasons why pleas are a good thing. They tend to be beneficial to both parties, as most negotiations are.»

Yeah, I doubt that. And even if they are good for both "parties" are they good for society? I thought the point of the justice system was to establish guilt or innocence to the highest degree possible, not to play Deal or No Deal with the accused.

Kent Kossoy 4 years, 9 months ago

This has nothing to do with immigration. He should get the maximum. For me that would be a very slow 14 year death. Then deport him in a pine box. Even that is too nice for this poor excuse for a human being. This is not the fault of the bar. Leftists would say that this is because of Bush. I would say this is because of Leftists.

Mean_Green 4 years, 9 months ago

When this was first brought into the media many months ago, I questioned his citizenship and people called me racist. For those of you who did, please read the last sentence of the article. I accept your apology.

He will be deported once he serves his time. There's no "possiblity" about it. Regardless if he had documents to be in the U.S. legally or if he was an illegal alien, he was convicted of what the Government calls a C.I.M.T. (Crime Involving Moral Turpitude). If anyone other than a U.S. Citizen is convicted of a C.I.M.T., that's a oneway ticket back to your home country with no chance of ever becoming a U.S. Citizen again.

I hope I have the oportunity to catch this guy if he tries to come back and cross my Rio Grande River.

kawrivercrow 4 years, 9 months ago

Why does illegal immigration matter? Because he never should have been here to begin with. What if you had a dog that keeps defecating on your carpet? The problem falls entirely upon the dog-owner, you, because you own the dog and you own the house . OK, now...what if the neighbor's dog keeps sneaking into your house through the doggy-door and keeps defecating on your carpet? See the difference?

As afar as I'm concerned, she has the right to track down whoever has unlawfully employed this member of the illegal alien criminal subculture and sue them for their role in facilitating this crime and also sue the US gov't for refusing to enforce our borders.

As for his deportation. He will simply sneak right back across the border and adopt a new identity and keep raping girls to his little heart's delight. The gov't won't stop him and the pro-illegal faction, some of who are reading this, will be all too happy and lend an enabling hand.

bliddel 4 years, 9 months ago

Comments here suggest enough interest in voting out the current District Attorney, for cause. There is a way to do that. Cheesburger and AfraidNot both make powerful and persuasive arguments, even though they clearly disagree. Even where the legal system apparently worked, there is ample room for improvement.

jumpin_catfish 4 years, 9 months ago

Unless he's missing a body part the sentence was too light.

BlackVelvet 4 years, 9 months ago

anyone who seriously thinks that government will deport this scum once he serves his sentence is sadly mistaken. Over many years, I have seen numerous "illegals" who were caught commiting various crimes and the INS (now ICE) didn't seem interested in doing anything about it. .

Kent Kossoy 4 years, 9 months ago

I do not care if he does get deported, But I do agree with the removal of his body part......and then to a pine box!!!

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

A violent criminal is going to be off the street for a long time. It's a good day for the rest of us.

parrothead8 4 years, 9 months ago

lawrenceguy40 (anonymous) says... We do not need anymore foreigners in this country, legal or illegal.

So I assume you agree with deporting anyone who isn't a Native American?

UfoPilot 4 years, 9 months ago

Parrothead8 ...I think you need to look up the word "anymore" in the dictionary. Reading comprehension must not be your strong suit.

XEPCT 4 years, 9 months ago

Oh really UfoPilot? That's rich considering Parrothead didn't write that, it's clearly stated that lawrenceguy40 said that. Go ahead get your dictionary, that's right: "said" is the past form of "(to) say" and "says" is the conjugation of "(to) say" in the 3rd person singular. English is actually wondrously simple as far as languages are concerned.

I have no problem with immigrants, but perpetrators of violent crimes (such as this) should be deported. If an American did this in say Italy (ahem ... Amanda Knox) they should also be sent back here after serving their time.

lasherpa 4 years, 9 months ago

Peggy Kittel has quietly been a shining star down at the court house for years. She is an excellent Judge and attorney. She handled the juvenile and protem division with fairness and compassion for years...not surprised to see her carry it over to her own courtroom.

yankeevet 4 years, 9 months ago

How about some frontier justice; a mule; a rope; and an old oak tree.......................and dont bury him............."buzzards gotta eat too; same as worms"..................

Jonathan Becker 4 years, 9 months ago

While the sentence imposed is the aggravated sentence permitted by the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines, aggravated kidnapping could have doubled the sentence from 165 months to 330.

"When consecutive sentences are imposed for multiple convictions in one case, stemming from multiple counts brought in one charging instrument, the total prison sentence imposed cannot exceed twice the base sentence. It is not necessary to reduce the duration of any of the non-base sentences in order to satisfy this rule because the limit applies only to the total controlling sentence. K.S.A. 21- 4720(b)(4). This means that the sentencing court is not required to shorten the length of any of the individual non-base sentences given to an offender, as long as the court orders that the total sentence given to the offender is adjusted so that it does not exceed twice the base sentence." 2008 Kansas Sentencing Guidelines.

What the DA traded for the certainty of a plea with a minimum of 155 months, registration as a sex offender and mandatory deportation was the uncertainty of a conviction on a 2nd, Level 1 charge. The DA's judgment was that Douglas County juries may not be willing to double the convictions - See Jaeger conviction. The scriveners here who are so cock-sure that a jury would convict, should go down to the courthouse and volunteer to try the case. Demonstrate that you are going to get every piece of critical evidence by establishing an unbroken chain of custody and foundation. Handle the direct and cross of the witnesses. Make sure the experts who are going to testify about the DNA, the testing of clothing, samples, are there and ready to go. Choose a jury, persuade a jury, and prep all the witnesses for trial. Handle objections, Batson challenges, and get the jury instructions put together as the case progresses. It wasn't too long ago that we had a DA who was too busy to show up for hearings. And after the cock-sure scriveners have lost the trial, let us at them for not taking the plea. We may disagree about the means the DA used, but we have to like the end result. Branson is smart enough to know what facts are going to get J. Kittel to depart upward from a standard sentence. And the plea agreement says the Judge is not part of the deal and ultimately controls the length of sentence. The Judge tells the Defendant that when the Judge accepts the plea.

What penal purpose would be served with a potential of doubling the sentence so that we can provide 3 hots and a cot for another 13+ years? Deterrence? J. Kittel sent the same message. Punishment? 13+ years walking with your back to a wall should be enough. Rehabilitation? Don't insult our collective intelligence Vengeance? We walked away from that in the Middle Ages.

I would note that Sheriff McGovern has already moved the Defendant out of his crossbar hotel to DOC. One of the last things he probably saw before he enters prison was the ironic sign, "Welcome to El Dorado!"

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 4 years, 9 months ago

Compare this to the moron over in Topeka who turned a child molester loose. Way to go Judge Kittel.

PrettyTony 4 years, 9 months ago

14 years is all he got?? Thats a damn shame.

chucknoblet 4 years, 9 months ago

The article says this brave young woman "stole" his wallet? There's a lot of horrible, scary stuff that jumped out at me in this article, but somehow the author's choice of the word "stole" seems jarring to me. I wonder if it would've been better to say "was able to secure". I guess I'm being overly sensitive, but it just seems like assigning the word "stole" to the victim is a little distateful or jarring.

lawrenceRezident 4 years, 9 months ago

Alejandro Cortez, you deserve every day that you are in there... You destroyed a young woman in ways you can't even imagine... Hope you get sodomized! ENJOY!!!!

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