SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – The two people accused of kidnapping a 3-month-old boy in San Jose pleaded not guilty today.
Yesenia Ramirez and Jose Portillo are charged with kidnapping Brandon Cuellar. The DA’s office says the two also tried to take the baby—several weeks before they were successful.
Jose Portillo was not present at today’s plea hearing. His attorney says it was part of COVID protocol, but that as far as she knows he is not ill. Pleading not guilty on his behalf.
Yesenia Ramirez was in court Tuesday, pleading not guilty to all charges against her. Ramirez’s attorney, Cody Salfen says baby Brandon’s family knew Ramirez and relied on her for his care.
Cody Salfen, Ramirez’s Attorney, said, “At the onset of this case, I think the general public was terrified because they thought some random person went in and snatched a child and even if you assume the truth of the allegations that are put forward by the prosecution at this point. It’s very clear that that’s not what happened.”
Ramirez appeared before the judge, with a clear physical difference compared to her past court appearances. This time her hair was done and make-up on.
A preliminary hearing will begin next week for both Portillo and Ramirez. The judge will need to decide if there’s enough probable cause for the case to go to trial.
Last month the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office added attempted kidnapping charges, saying Ramirez and Portillo tried to take Baby Brandon from his family multiple times, starting in March. Portillo’s attorney says the preliminary hearing will be an opportunity for those close to the family and the accused to present the facts.
Ramirez and Portillo will remain in custody without bail. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled to start June 13th.