San Jose

Suspects in San Jose Kidnapping Plead Not Guilty

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The two suspects accused of kidnapping a baby in San Jose in April told a judge Tuesday they are not guilty.

Yesenia Ramirez and Jose Portillo were arrested and charged in connection with the April 25 kidnapping of Brandon Cuellar from his grandmother's home. After Tuesday's plea, Ramirez's attorney said the kidnapping wasn't a stranger abduction, hinting it wasn't an abduction at all.

"The parties that are associated with this case, including Ms. Ramirez, including baby Brandon's family, they were no strangers," attorney Cody Salfen said. "They were friends. They were perhaps quasi-family members themselves, not that there was a familial relationship between them, but they knew each other and they relied upon Ms. Ramirez for care of their child leading up to this."

Surveillance video from the day of the kidnapping showed Portillo walking away from the home holding an infant carrier with what appeared to be a child inside.

"Mr. Portillo, as with Ms. Ramirez, entered pleas of not guilty and appropriate denials to the allegations," Karri Iyama with the Santa Clara County Alternate Defender Office said.

Ramirez and Portillo are also accused of plotting and unsuccessfully attempting to kidnap baby Brandon at least three other times before the actual kidnapping. They pled not guilty to those charges as well.

The two are scheduled to return to court June 13 for their preliminary hearing.

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