Prairie State Wire

Prairie State Wire

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Plea deal discussed for immigrant in country illegally charged in hit-and-run death of Normal’s Corey Cottrell


By W.J. Kennedy | Sep 12, 2019

Cottrell left, Rodriguez right

The family of 39-year-old Corey Cottrell, the Normal resident who was struck and killed in June by a van allegedly driven by, Jose Rodriguez, who was in the country illegally, is alarmed that a plea deal could be in the works in the hit-and-run case. 

On Wednesday, McLean County Judge Scott Drazewski set a Nov. 12 trial date for Rodriguez, who faces up to 15 years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident involving a death. But after the hearing, prosecutors approached Corey’s mother, Kathy, to discuss a possible plea deal, according to family spokesperson Cheryl Wendland.

“Kathy told them she wants nothing but the maximum,” Wendland told Prairie State Wire. “She’s the mother of a murdered child. But just the fact that they approached Kathy about it makes us believe that this will never go to trial. They even talked about the possibility of probation.”

One charge against Rodriguez, that of not having a valid driver’s license, was dropped on Wednesday.

“He magically presented a valid Illinois driver’s license,” Wendland wrote in an email. “I asked how an illegal received a driver’s license. The response? It’s allowed here. I question the legitimacy of that license. Corey’s mom asked sarcastically if he obtained the license before or after he killed her son.”

Illinois is a sanctuary state and allows “non-visa status individuals” to obtain a Temporary Visitor Driver's License.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents picked Rodriguez up on Aug. 10 when the McLean County Detention Facility released him on parole. At the time, the Cottrell family was concerned that ICE might deport the 27-year-old Rodriguez back to his native Honduras before he faced prosecution. Now, Wendland said, they feel more confident that ICE is working with the local officials to hold Rodriguez until the case is settled.

An ICE spokesman said that the agency is mandated to carry out a judge’s removal order as expeditiously as possible.

“However, we do work with local prosecutors and explain ICE/federal procedures,” ICE public affairs officer Shawn Neudauer wrote in an email.

Corey Cottrell left his mother, a sister and two young daughters behind. Corey’s ex-wife has filed a wrongful death action in the case.

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