BLOOMINGTON — A different judge will be assigned to the criminal case of a man accused of driving a van in a fatal hit-and-run crash in Bloomington.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the former wife and mother of the two minor children of the man killed in the crash and against the other driver and the owner of the van.
In the criminal case in McLean County Circuit Court on Friday, Judge William A. Yoder approved a motion by defense attorney Chris Gramm asking for a new judge in the case of Jose D. Rodriguez, 27, of Bloomington.
Rodriguez is charged with failure to report an accident that resulted in a death, disregarding a traffic control device and driving without a valid driver's license.
Prosecutors said that about 3:40 p.m. June 22, Rodriguez was driving a van east on MacArthur Avenue when the van struck a motorcycle driven by Corey Cottrell, 39, of Normal, as Cottrell was northbound on Main Street.
Cottrell was pronounced dead later that afternoon at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. Prosecutors say that Rodriguez ran away from the scene but turned himself into the Bloomington Police Department the next day.
Yoder, at a hearing earlier this month, increased Rodriguez's bond to $100,035 and acknowledged that immigration officials were in the courtroom. Prosecutors had not requested the increase. Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Gramm, who said earlier this month that Rodriguez is a native of Honduras who has lived in Bloomington for more than five years, filed the motion asking for a new judge.
Yoder, after granting the motion on Friday, said the case will be assigned to another judge. Rodriguez remains in custody in McLean County jail and was assisted during Friday's hearing by a language interpreter. Family members of Cottrell and Rodriguez were in the courtroom.
David Fitt, a McLean County assistant state's attorney, did not comment during the hearing. Gramm told The Pantagraph afterward that he had no comment.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit was filed in McLean County Circuit Court by LeRoy attorney Tom Pliura on behalf of Violet Hinojosa Cottrell, Corey Cottrell's former wife and the mother of his two minor children.
The lawsuit alleges that Rodriguez was driving at an excessive speed, failed to heed a stop light and was operating without a valid driver's license when the crash took place. The lawsuit asks for damages in excess of $50,000 from Rodriguez; from German Javier Rodriguez, who controlled the van; and from GR Framing Construction Inc., which owned the van. The suit alleges that they should have known that Rodriguez didn't have a valid driver's license.