Attorney wants more protection for witness in Joliet flare gun murder case

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An attorney said he wants more protection for a witness in a Joliet murder case and his family after telling a judge that the witness’s mother’s house was struck repeatedly by gunfire and that a younger brother was “hunted down and shot.”

The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has requested Judge Dan Kennedy grant a material witness bond for Eric Raya, 20, who was initially charged with murder and arson in connection with a 2017 house fire that killed Regina Rogers, 28, her baby, Royalty Rogers, and Jacquetta Rogers, 29.

Prosecutors dropped those charges against Raya in exchange for his testimony against Manuel Escamilla, 20, and Andy Cerros, 19, who have also been charged in the case. Raya has testified Cerros fired the flare that caused the deadly blaze while the two were riding in a car driven by Escamilla.

Prosecutors have requested the material witness bond to ensure Raya will testify.

Raya’s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, told Kennedy on Thursday that he wanted to research what further protections the court could offer the Raya family.

Tomczak told Kennedy that Raya's 16-year-old brother, Elian Raya, was "hunted down and shot" near the Joliet Mexican Independence Day Parade on Sept. 14, and Raya's mother's home has been struck by gunfire five times.

“It’s clear and present danger right now as evident of what happened at the parade,” Tomczak said.

Kennedy rescheduled the hearing on the material witness bond request for Tuesday.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News