Brothers will stand trial together in fatal Aurora birthday party fight
Two Aurora brothers charged in a fight at a birthday party that ended with a man's death will have a joint jury trial.
Raul Colin, 27, of the 600 block of South Spencer Street, and Jose M. Alejandre, 34, of the 3400 block of Fox Mill Road, who authorities say are brothers, were both charged with felony aggravated battery in the Oct. 1, 2017, fight in which Erik Mendez, 36, was killed. Alejandre also is charged with involuntary manslaughter, Kane County court records show.
According to Aurora police, officers were called about 12:15 a.m. to the 0-99 block of South State Street, where they found Mendez sprawled in the street, unconscious with a head injury. He later died.
The ensuing investigation determined a birthday party was held in honor of Mendez, who later got into a fight with Colin, police said. The fight escalated and moved into the street where, at some point, Alejandre pushed Mendez, causing him to fall, hit his head on the pavement and later die, according to police and court records.
Kane County prosecutors argued to join the cases if they advance to a jury trial and Judge D.J. Tegeler agreed last week, records show. Prosecutors contended the move would not infringe on either man's right to a fair trial and also would be efficient.
"The witnesses who would testify against (the) defendants are virtually identical," prosecutors wrote. "The victim's family members were witnesses to the event and emotionally traumatized by the acts of the defendants. They should not have to testify at two trials."
Fred Morelli, defense attorney for Colin, opposed the move, arguing cases can only be joined when neither defendant has implicated the other, but Alejandre has told police Colin was the "instigator." Defendants also can be split up if they are so antagonistic toward each other that a separation would be needed to ensure a fair trial, Morelli noted.
"The incident involved a street 'brawl' outside a party that was hosted by the deceased and which involved several people including the deceased and the co-defendants," Morelli wrote, noting each defendant "places blame for the instigation of the incident on the other."
Both Alejandre and Colin are free on bond and are both due in court May 2.
Alejandre faces a punishment ranging from probation to up to five years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Colin faces up to five years in prison on the aggravated battery charge.