PICO RIVERA (CBSLA) — A man pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in a deadly carjacking that killed a 13-year-old girl and seriously injured her 8-year-old brother.
26-year-old Jose Elias Aguilar, of Los Angeles, is charged with one count of murder and corporal injury to a child, and four counts each of carjacking and kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking.
The carjacking happened in the 9000 block of Whittier Boulevard near Lindsay Avenue on July 5.
The young girl who died was identified by family as 13-year-old Isabella Cortes.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Cortes and her three siblings — 8, 11, and 18 years old — were sitting inside their family car, waiting for their parents outside the La Mano Tortilleria restaurant when a carjacker hopped inside.
The 18-year-old and 11-year-old managed to get out, but Cortes and her 8-year-old brother were still trapped inside as the suspect, identified as 27-year-old Jose Aguilar, sped off.
The 8-year-old suffered major injuries after being ejected and Cortes’ injuries were fatal. She died at the scene.
“[Isabella] was friendly with people. She didn’t have any problems,” her cousin Brenda Santiago said at a memorial for the teen. “She was super nice.”
Detectives say Aguilar got into a crash down the street then tried to carjack another vehicle a few miles away before he was held by civilians until police came to take him into custody.
Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Aguilar, who 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, according to officials.
Aguilar remains jailed without bail and is due back at the Norwalk courthouse on Nov. 3 for the setting of a preliminary hearing date.
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