BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer email@example.com
Jorge Aceves-Cortes told investigators he slapped his girlfriend with enough force to knock her backward onto a couch.
He denied, however, choking her or otherwise injuring her head. He said he merely shoved his open hand over her face after hitting her to keep her on the couch. He said he thought she was going to assault him.
That story -- contained in redacted police reports filed in court -- doesn't mesh with what a witness and the coroner's office have said about the death of Maria Cortes. The witness, Maria Cortes' 18-year-old son, said he saw Aceves-Cortes with his hand around his mother's neck.
And the coroner's office ruled Maria Cortes died as a result of blunt force head trauma.
Aceves-Cortes, 35, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of murder and willful cruelty to a child. He's being held on $1.5 million bail.
Police responded late Oct. 5 to the apartment Aceves-Cortes and Cortes shared in the 700 block of Brundage Lane. They found Cortes unresponsive and began CPR. She died a few hours later at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.
The victim's son told investigators Aceves-Cortes had been drinking that evening. The son said Aceves-Cortes had argued with Maria Cortes, and pushed her while holding a 2-month-old child in his other hand.
The son walked into a back bedroom to gather his younger siblings to leave with their mother, the reports say. He heard a gasping noise as he walked back to the living room.
The son saw Aceves-Cortes standing over his mother, his hand around her neck, according to the reports. Aceves-Cortes took his hand away when he saw the son, and Maria Cortes fell unconscious to the couch. The son called 911.
Investigators also interviewed a 7-year-old son of Cortes. The boy said he witnessed Aceves-Cortes punch his mother "hard" in the face that evening.
The next court hearing for Aceves-Cortes is scheduled for Oct. 25.