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Harvard man doesn’t testify in felony drug trial

Verdict due March 28

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:21 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 28, 2014 12:38 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – The felony drug trial for a Harvard man who prosecutors said had more than 100 grams of cocaine ended Wednesday without a verdict.

Cesar G. Rojas-Figueroa, 28, is facing serious prison time on charges of possessing cocaine with the intent to deliver, and as an armed habitual criminal.

Harvard police officers testified they recovered more than 100 grams of cocaine, marijuana and a TEC-9 gun from the home Rojas-Figueroa once shared with his girlfriend.

Police on Sept. 7 responded to 409 Prairie St. after Rojas-Figueroa and Brenda Valles got into an alcohol-fueled altercation. Valles testified that Rojas-Figueroa hit and choked her. For that, he’s also charged with domestic battery.

Valles later gave police what prosecutors called drug ledgers, and pointed detectives to a room in the basement that she wasn’t allowed to enter. Drugs, packaging materials, cutting agents, a scale and a money counter also were found there.

Valles said the couple lived in that home since July, but that she had signed Rojas-Figueroa’s name to the lease.

Defense attorney Donna Rotunno said Rojas-Figueroa did not have ties to the home, and argued the prosecution didn’t prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs were his. She said police only collected evidence that supported that preconceived conclusion.

“Police made a predetermined decision in this case and all the evidence they collected moved in that direction,” she said.

Assistant State’s Attorney John Gibbons rejected the defense’s notion that the drugs could have belonged to Valles and that she was merely an angry girlfriend seeking revenge.

“It’s totally unrealistic to believe she would frame the defendant in that manner,” Gibbons said.

Rojas-Figueroa did not testify and Rotunno called no witnesses.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather presided over the trial and will return a verdict on March 28.

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