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Key witness in NKY machete attack charged with killing victim’s father

The murder arrest prompted prosecutors to spare the young victim a trial in a case where he was stabbed.
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19) - A Guatemalan national pleaded guilty in Kenton County on Monday to assaulting a young boy with a machete.

The case was originally set to go to trial on an attempted murder charge. A recent murder arrest involving the young victim’s parents threw an unusual wrench into the case, resulting in a plea agreement on the lesser assault charge.

That assault happened in May 2019, when Estevan Portugues stabbed a then-9-year-old victim, according to Kenton County Prosecutor Rob Sanders.

Sanders says Portugues was so drunk at the time of the assault that he doesn’t remember it.

“Police tried to interrogate this defendant immediately after the attack, but [Portugues] was so intoxicated, the Spanish-speaking officer couldn’t understand him,” said Sanders.

The prosecutor says the boy’s shoulder blade kept him from serious injury: “An inch or two in either direction and it could have been life-threatening.”

The victim, now 12, has fully recovered.

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Police initially charged Portugues with assault. Later, a grand jury indicted him on a count of attempted murder.

Sanders says he intended to take the case to trial, but then it hit a snag.

Eye-witness testimony from Keyshawn McCoy was critical to the attempted murder case against Portugues.

McCoy, then 16, was with the victim at the time of the stabbing and positively identified Portugues to police.

But McCoy was arrested in connection with the alleged murder of a man named Michael Bishop last month.

Bishop was the father of the young victim in the machete case.

“The eye witness identification was key to our case,” said Sanders. “But [McCoy’s] credibility was obviously hurt when he was arrested.”

Speaking of the young victim, Sanders added, “This poor kid has obviously lived through more trauma in his twelve years than most people experience in a lifetime. Resolving this case without putting him through a trial was in everyone’s best interests.”

Portugues pleaded guilty in such a way that he conceded the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him, but he did not admit to the crime itself.

He agreed to the prosecution’s recommended sentence of eight years in prison.

The plea agreement also requires Portugues to agree to deportation once he is released from prison.

His formal sentencing hearing will be Nov. 22.

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