Pico Rivera

Man Accused of Stealing Car Filled With Kids, Leading to Death of 13-Year-Old Girl, Pleads Not Guilty

Aguilar allegedly got into a parked van where 13-year-old Isabella Cortes and her three siblings -- her 8- and 11-year-old brothers and 18-year-old sister -- were waiting outside La Mano Tortilleria while their parents went in to get food.

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A man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to capital murder and other counts stemming from a carjacking last month in Pico Rivera in which a 13-year-old girl died and her 8-year-old brother was seriously injured.

Jose Elias Aguilar, 26, of Los Angeles, is charged with one count each of murder and corporal injury to a child, along with four counts each of carjacking and kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking.

The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a carjacking and a kidnapping, along with an allegation that he has a 2017 conviction from Orange County for first-degree burglary.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against him.

Aguilar allegedly got into a parked van where 13-year-old Isabella Cortes and her three siblings -- her 8- and 11-year-old brothers and 18-year-old sister -- were waiting outside La Mano Tortilleria at 9237 Whittier Blvd. while their parents went in to get food on July 5.

Two of the children were able to jump out of the van, with both suffering minor injuries, authorities said.

Aguilar allegedly drove erratically, causing the 8-year-old boy to be ejected from the vehicle and suffer serious injuries, according to prosecutors.

Seconds later, the 13-year-old girl was ejected from the vehicle at the intersection of Lindsey Avenue and Whittier Boulevard, where she struck a stationary object and sustained fatal injuries, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez.

Aguilar allegedly continued on Whittier Boulevard when he struck another vehicle at Rosemead Boulevard, ran from the disabled van and carjacked a vehicle with a woman and a 2-year-old inside.

The driver of that car -- whom Aguilar had allegedly seen get out of the vehicle -- managed to jump back in and fight back as the vehicle moved about 100 feet before crashing into a bridge. Aguilar was detained by good Samaritans who held him until police arrived, prosecutors said.

Aguilar had recently been arrested and released on zero bail for felony possession of a dirk/dagger and vandalism and was on summary probation for other crimes, Navarro-Suarez said shortly after he was taken into custody.

He remains jailed without bail and is due back at the Norwalk courthouse on Nov. 3 for the setting of a preliminary hearing date.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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