Update: Jose Yanez guilty of murder in the killing of Antonio Oritz

Update: Jose Yanez guilty of murder in the killing of Antonio Oritz


Jose Yanez  was found guilty on Friday of second-degree murder in relation stabbing death of Antonio A. Ortiz Jr. in December 2018 in Rock Island.

Yanez was accused of using a knife to kill Ortiz during a confrontation between the two men in the early hours of Dec. 16 at Yanez's home in the 2200 block of 17th Street. The quarrel started because of a fight earlier that morning between Yanez and a relative of Ortiz whom Yanez was dating at the time.

The confrontation between the two men lasted about 22 minutes and involved three shorter encounters in which Ortiz was banging on Yanez's front door, according to testimony from Yanez's one-day bench trial on Thursday. The stabbing happened during the final encounter after Ortiz broke the glass out of Yanez's door. Much of the confrontation, including the stabbing, was captured by a security camera Yanez had in his house. That footage was not shown in open court, but Judge Norma Kauzlarich, who ruled in the case, reviewed it in her chambers. The video was referenced several times during the trial.

Yanez argued the killing was justified because he was defending himself and his property from Ortiz, but the Rock Island County State's Attorney's Office argued Yanez's belief that lethal force was necessary was unreasonable.

Ortiz, once he broke the door glass, stood there, Kauzlarich said Friday while explaining her ruling. She was referencing what she saw in the video. Ortiz didn't have anything in his hands and he was talking about Yanez hitting his relative. When Yanez approached and stabbed Ortiz, the wounded man said, "Why you gotta be stabbing me?"

In the roughly 20 minutes before the glass was broken, Yanez, who was in the house with a juvenile relative during the incident, could be heard several times saying he would be justified in killing Ortiz, the judge said. 

Kauzlarich said Friday that Yanez was also guilty of domestic battery for hitting Ortiz's relative. 

Once the verdicts were announced, Kauzlarich ordered Yanez taken into custody. He had been out on bond. Deputies cuffed him and led him away as the hearing concluded.

His sentencing is set for Jan. 3.

Friends and family of both men were in the audience, as they were during the trial. 

When Kauzlarich announced her verdict for the murder charge, there were gasps and sobs from Ortiz's family. Several of them hugged each other. 

Afterward, a young man, who later said he was Mario Vicuna, Yanez's brother, hugged members of Ortiz's family. A woman from the Yanez side of the courtroom followed behind him as the family began to trail out. 

"Sorry for your loss," she told Ortiz's loved ones. 

After the hearing, Vicuna said he believes that Yanez did what he thought he needed to do that morning to defend himself and the boy who was with him. 

"My brother's never been a fighter," he said. "He's not a monster."

Ortiz was Yanez's friend, Vicuna said. Yanez considered Ortiz's relatives as his family and friends. 

"He hurts as well," Vicuna said.

Ortiz's family left the courthouse before they could be asked for comment. 


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