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Local News

Defendant-turned-witness in Joliet triple murder case back in jail

Prosecutors argued man violated probation after his arrest on armed robbery charge

Eric Raya
Eric Raya

A defendant-turned-witness in a Joliet triple murder case was back in jail after a judge set a new bond for him in response to prosecutors’ request to revoke his probation.

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Chris Koch asked Judge Dan Kennedy on Monday to set a “reasonable bond” for Eric Raya, 21, after he argued Raya violated his probation with his Nov. 4 arrest in Cook County on charges of armed robbery, aggravated battery and mob action.

Raya was sentenced to 30 months’ probation after he pleaded guilty to obstructing justice for allowing Manuel Escamilla, 21, to drive his Chrysler Pacifica the night police said a flare gun was used to start a house fire in 2017 that killed Regina Rogers, 28, her baby, Royalty Rogers, and Jacquetta Rogers, 29.

Raya’s attorney Kylie Blatti asked Kennedy for either a recognizance bond or a bond of no more than $5,000 after she said Raya is presumed innocent of the Cook County charges, that he works full time and that his mother his reliant on him for support.

Kennedy set Raya’s bond at $5,000 after Koch agreed to that amount. He ordered a deputy to arrest Raya.

“Take him into custody,” Kennedy said.

Raya will need to post $500 for his release from the Will County jail.

Raya was once charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated arson, residential arson and arson but prosecutors agreed to drop those charges almost a year ago in exchange for his testimony against Escamilla and Andy Cerros, 20.

Escamilla and Cerros have been charged with killing the two women and infant.

The deal also included Raya agreeing to plead guilty to obstructing justice and aggravated battery in an incident unrelated to the deadly 2017 house fire.

Prosecutors have argued Raya, Escamilla and Cerros were inside the Chrysler Pacifica at the time of the incident. Raya testified he heard “two pops” before he saw Cerros hold a flare gun and say, “I think I got it through the window.”

A jury trial for Cerros has been scheduled for Nov. 16.

Escamilla's case has yet to go trial and his attorney Chuck Bretz has requested a special prosecutor after claiming in a motion that prosecutors engaged in "legal whitewashing" of Raya by not finding him in violation of his probation and plea deal after his Nov. 4 arrest.

A hearing on that motion is scheduled for Wednesday.

Will County Assistant State's Attorney Chris Koch objected to Bretz's special prosecutor request by arguing the appearance of impropriety is no longer a basis for that request and there was no actual conflict of interest in the case.

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