Prairie State Wire

Prairie State Wire

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Guilty plea but no bail revocation for driver in Cottrell's hit-and-run death

State Government

By W.J. Kennedy | Jan 27, 2020

Corey Cottrell, left, and Jose Rodriguez

Jose Rodriguez, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, remains free on bail after pleading guilty to the hit-and-run death last June of 39-year-old Corey Cottrell of Normal, a father of two.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 8 before McLean County Judge Scott Drazewski, who rejected the state’s attorney’s arguments on Monday that the 28-year-old Rodriguez was a flight risk and should have his bail revoked.

Rodriquez could receive the maximum of 15 years for the Class 1 felony conviction of leaving the scene of an accident where a death occurs, or as little as time served – he served a few months in the detention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and a month in the McLean County Detention Facility.

The guilty plea is bittersweet for the Cottrell family, which has endured a wrenching legal process in the case.

“We can say publicly that he is guilty of killing Corey, so that’s something of a relief,” family spokesperson Cheryl Wendland told Prairie State Wire. “But we are disgusted that he is able to walk the streets and with not knowing whether he’ll even show up in April.”

Prosecutors with the McLean County State’s Attorney’s office told the family last week that Rodriguez, in the face of overwhelming evidence, was planning to plead guilty to the charge.

“They told us they had him on video from a nearby store getting out of the van, not offering assistance [to Corey] and getting back in the van,” Wendland said. “They also had two witnesses in the van who agreed to testify against him.”

Rodriquez has been in and out of custody since the accident, which occurred on June 22, 2019, at the intersection of South Main Street and East MacArthur Avenue in Bloomington.

In June, McLean County Judge Tom Funk set Rodriguez’s bond at $100,000. The required $10,035 was posted and Rodriguez was released after serving one day. Then in July, Judge William Yoder set the bond at $1 million. Rodriguez was ordered to the McLean County Detention Center and remained there until two days after Judge Drazewski reverted the bond amount back to $100,000 on Aug. 8.

Upon his release from the detention center, Rodriguez was picked up by ICE agents. Border Patrol agents had issued an expedited removal order for Rodriguez on April 17, 2013, according to an earlier statement from ICE. He got back on the radar of federal officials with the publicity surrounding Cottrell’s death.

But in November, Judge Samuel Cole of Chicago Immigration Court ordered ICE to release Rodriguez

The family did not find out about his release until a month later.

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