SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Baby Brandon kidnapper Yesenia Ramirez has been sentenced to 13 years and four months in prison. Her accomplice, Jose Portillo was sentenced to five years.

Both Ramirez and Portillo were ordered to be immediately taken into custody and report to prison.

Portillo, whose attorney had asked for no prison time and probation only, made the following statement in Spanish:

“I made bad decisions that hurt the people around me. I hurt myself also by committing this mistake. I am very sorry for all the damage that I caused, to the parents and to the family of the baby. I ask for forgiveness from the court and the parents of the baby. All this time I have been in jail, I have reflected about my life, I have learned more about Jesus Christ. By being in the cells of this jail, I’ve been crying every night asking God for an opportunity, that the court gives me the opportunity to be released from jail.” 

In sentencing Portillo, the judge said he may have been following Ramirez’s plot and directions, however, he actively participated in several attempted kidnappings and the kidnapping. The judge also noted that Portillo was the person who actually picked up baby Brandon and carried the infant out of the grandmother’s house.


The two people who admitted to kidnapping a three-month-old baby in San Jose last year will be sentenced to prison today. Yesenia Ramirez and Jose Portillo pleaded guilty to the kidnapping of three-month-old baby Brandon Cuellar.

Ramirez could be looking at 14 years in prison and Portillo at five. Prosecutors are not happy because they wanted the two to have more than 16 years in prison instead of the deal they took with the court after pleading guilty. 

San Jose police say the two were in a relationship and that they tried to kidnap baby Brandon multiple times and even attempted to cut the brakes on Brandon’s mother’s car.

Follow for updates:

1:50 p.m. — Kidnapper’s defense attorney on why the case was so high-profile

1:00 p.m. — Prosecutor: “We are WAY past apologies”

12:20 p.m. — Judge interrupts confessed kidnapper’s statement: “Let’s wrap it up”

Admitted Baby Brandon kidnapper Yesenia Ramirez was in the midst of an extended tearful apology and confession when the judge in the case cut her off.

“She’s been talking for what, 40 minutes? Let’s wrap it up,” Judge Nona Klippen said. Ramirez then ended her statement and the judge called for a lunch recess. The judge said she will announce her sentencing when court resumes at 1:30 p.m.

Jose Portillo has not had a chance to speak and it’s unclear if he has chosen to make a statement.

More of Yesenia Ramirez’s statement:

“My words can probably provide you with little, and the scars caused by my crimes will never heal completely. However I would like you to know that I am sorry truly. You probably want nothing to do with me, and I deserve that and accept that. I ask for forgiveness. I kidnapped a baby and I know his family feared that they wouldn’t see their child again. My life has not been easy but I don’t want to use this an excuse. I will always be regretful. I have spent every night of the past year without sleeping in jail. My thoughts have included profound emotions and genuine embarrassment and guilt. (During) long days and nights in jail, for the first time in my life, I looked deep inside to understand myself. I understand my actions were not only illegal and morally inexcusable.”

11:38 a.m. — “Mastermind” behind kidnapping sobs in court, asks for forgiveness

Yesenia Ramirez, speaking in Spanish, sobbed in court Monday as she gave a lengthy statement and asked for forgiveness.

Her statement:

“Your honor, good morning. My name is Yesenia Guadalupe Ramirez. I am a mother, grandmother. daughter and sister.  But I am here before you, and others, as the defendant in this criminal case of kidnapping a baby. With all of my heart I am so sorry. Your honor, this statement obviously is directed to your honor the judge. But this is also the most important opportunity that I have to talk to the persons that I converted into victims. Crimes I committed personally, crimes that I take responsibility for. Crimes that resulted in trauma, crimes that have traumatized many, not just the victims, I take responsibility for causing that trauma. I am sorry for that trauma, and even though I don’t deserve it, I ask the people I have hurt, not necessarily clemency, but if it’s possible, forgiveness.”

“I am here almost a year later, while I face this judge to be sentenced. Last year, I did a series of stuff that was horrible. I planned the kidnapping of a child, a baby, I took advantage of the love of Mr. Portillo, to take this in place. The kidnapping of a baby. The name of that baby is Brandon. A baby that I loved and took care of. A baby that belongs to a family that I loved and I worried for, a baby that wasn’t and will never be mine. A baby that doesn’t belong to me. A baby that I did not have the right to take. A baby that belongs to a family that will never be my family. I’m sorry for this family. I’m sorry for this baby, his mother, father, and all of his loved ones that I have hurt. I am sorry for others that I have manipulated, traumatized, due to my crimes and my actions. I am sorry to my husband for lying to him and involving him in this. He was innocent of any crime or participation of my actions. I am sorry for my daughter and granddaughter. They don’t deserve the hate that they didn’t have a part in causing that resulted in the crime I committed. I am sorry that I will not be able to be present in their lives in a significant way at this moment. I am sorry to other people in my life that I have hurt and manipulated. I have remorse. I felt that I don’t have control during almost my whole life. The easiest solution immediately was to manipulate others. It hasn’t been until recently that I finally comprehend all these parts of myself. I am deeply embarrassed and regretful.”

11:20 a.m. — Baby Brandon’s mother: “We live in fear” Ramirez will be freed

10:55 a.m. — Ramirez’s defense attorney argues against lengthy sentence

10:30 a.m. — Baby Brandon kidnappers sentencing hearing underway

San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata previously described Baby Brandon’s kidnapping as “every parent’s worst nightmare.” The baby’s grandmother told police that a complete stranger walked into her apartment, took Brandon, and vanished. Police later ID’d the stranger as Portillo.

9:50 a.m. — Defendants requested to change clothes after seeing TV cameras

Yesenia Ramirez changed into a black blazer, pants and dress shoes. Jose Portillo changed into a white button-up collared shirt. They both smiled when they entered the courtroom and neither look nervous.

Portillo is expected to get a light sentence because of a plea deal made with Santa Clara County Judge Nona Klippen. He is facing a maximum sentence of five year. Ramirez is facing 14 years maximum.

9:35 a.m. — Kidnappers Jose Portillo and Yesenia Ramirez await sentencing

Both kidnappers will have a chance to speak in court today, so we may hear their side of the story. Prosecutors said Ramirez was the mastermind behind stealing another woman’s infant on April 25, 2022. Baby Brandon’s family will give victim impact statements.

Prosecutors said Ramirez had planned to keep Baby Brandon as her own baby. She also lied to her husband, saying she had recently given birth to their child, when in fact, she was never pregnant, court documents show.