SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, AZ (The Nogales International) – A Superior Court judge handed down a six-month prison sentence to an undocumented immigrant who spent the night in a residence in Rio Rico that he and another suspect entered illegally.
Cristian Manuel Cortez Ruiz, 25, was sentenced Feb. 26 by Judge Thomas Fink after he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal trespass, a Class 6 felony. The judge gave him credit for 135 days served prior to the time of sentencing.
According to Cortez’s pre-sentence report, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office received a call on Oct. 13, 2017 from someone reporting a burglary in progress. The caller said he had a pistol with him, but the call was terminated before a dispatcher could gather any additional information.
When a deputy arrived at the scene, he went into the residence and discovered Cortez in a rear bedroom. After arresting Cortez, he located the person who had reported the burglary.
The caller said he had arrived at the home, which he was renting, and noticed that the screen to a living room window was open. He then checked a rear door and saw that it was open slightly. He also heard the sound of people moving around inside.
At that point, he said, he ran back to his car and retrieved a Beretta Nano pistol. Then he heard someone trying to exit the home through the front door.
When a male subject emerged, the man said, he pointed the gun at him. The suspect told him to calm down and that someone had given him the OK to stay there, but the man responded that it was his home and he needed to get out.
The suspect then fled out the back door and ran off into the bushes. That’s when the man called 911.
During a pre-sentence interview, Cortez said he had crossed the border three days earlier. He was picked up by a male subject and dropped off, along with another male, near the home in Rio Rico after the driver began to fear that he was being followed.
Cortez said the other man made made entry into the apartment, and he went in as well because he was cold. He said he slept inside but didn’t touch anything or even use the bathroom. The next day, the occupant came home and he was busted.
Cortez, from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, said he came to the United States to find work to support his family after an earthquake devastated the economy there.
“I know I shouldn’t have entered a stranger’s house. I did things without thinking,” he said in a statement provided for his pre-sentence report. “But the only reason was because I wanted to work so I could provide a better quality of life for my wife and son.”