Digital Access

Digital Access
Access theherald-news.com and all Shaw Local content from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, sports, business, classified and more! News you can use every day.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, weather, and more.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
Have our latest news, sports and obituaries emailed directly to you Monday through Friday so you can keep up with what's happening in the area.
Local News

Judge denies special prosecutor request in Joliet triple murder case

Manuel Escamilla
Manuel Escamilla

A judge denied an attorney’s motion for the appointment of a special prosecutor in a case where a Joliet man has been charged with a triple murder.

Judge Dan Kennedy denied the motion on Tuesday from attorney Chuck Bretz, who argued prosecutors engaged in "legal whitewashing" of defendant-turned-witness Eric Raya, 21.

Raya, Andy Cerros, 20, and Bretz’s client Manuel Escamilla, 21, were arrested on murder and arson charges in connection with a 2017 house fire that killed Regina Rogers, 28, her baby, Royalty Rogers, and Jacquetta Rogers, 29.

Prosecutors agreed to drop the murder and arson charges against Raya in exchange for his testimony against Escamilla and Cerros.

Bretz argued prosecutors failed to take action against Raya following his arrest last year in Summit on an armed robbery charge. He claimed prosecutors' inaction toward their witness gives the appearance of unfair prosecution.

At Tuesday’s court hearing, Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Chris Koch said Raya’s charges in the Summit incident are pending in Cook County and that prosecutors filed a petition to revoke Raya’s probation on May 5.

Koch argued Escamilla is not being unfairly prosecuted and that Bretz can attack Raya’s credibility as a witness during trial.

Bretz argued prosecutors took months to file the petition to revoke Raya’s probation and they misled the court over an issue regarding a material witness bond for Raya.

Kennedy denied Bretz’s motion after saying he considered motions filed by both parties in Escamilla’s case and heard their arguments during the hearing.

Escamilla’s case has been scheduled for a trial setting date on Dec. 11.

The jury trial for Cerros is slated for for Nov. 16.

Prosecutors charged Escamilla and Cerros with causing the deadly house fire on June 3, 2017, using a flare gun in an attempt to kill Rakeem "Rocky" Venson, who managed to escape the blaze by jumping out a window of the home.

Prosecutors said Venson and Escamilla belong to rival street gangs and the motive for the arson was related to an ongoing gang-related feud.

Loading more