COVINGTON, Ky. — A Guatemalan man entered an Alford guilty plea in a 2019 machete attack that hospitalized a 9-year-old boy in Covington.
An Alford guilty plea means Estevan Portugues admits a trial would likely yield a guilty verdict, but he does not admit to committing the crime himself. Portugues was so drunk at the time of the attack that he does not remember committing the crime, according to Rob Sanders, Commonwealth attorney.
"Police tried to interrogate this defendant immediately after the attack, but the defendant was so intoxicated the Spanish-speaking officer couldn't understand him," said Sanders in a press release.
The victim, now 12 years old, has since fully recovered from his injuries.
Covington Police said that on May 10, Portugues attacked a group of juveniles and cut one of the children in the back with a machete at Father Hanses Park near 11th St. and Hermes Ave. in Covington.
Portugues and two other men approached a group of juveniles -- a 9-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old. Witnesses told police they saw Portugues waving the machete in the air and hitting it on the ground, according to Valenti.
The juveniles tried to run away, but Portugues caught up to the then-9-year-old boy and hit him with the machete on the right shoulder, causing a wound 3-inches deep and 2-inches long, officials said.
The injured boy was taken to a hospital, but was recovering at home by May 13. His mother, Alicia Haywood, said at the time that she would have liked for Portugues, who was initially only charged with assault, to face more significant charges.
"The charges are ridiculous. I mean if I was to do that to someone, I would be in way more severe trouble than what he is," she said in May 2019. "He got second degree for trying to kill my kid. You come with a machete to a fight, you ain't trying to hurt somebody, you're trying to kill them."
A grand jury later indicted Portugues for attempted murder.
Sanders said in a press release that he intended on taking the case to trial on the attempted murder charge, until their key eyewitness, a then-16-year-old who was there during the attack, was arrested and charged with murder.
"The eyewitness identification was key to our case," said Sanders. "But his credibility was obviously hurt when he was arrested."
The eyewitness, now-18-year-old Keyshawn McCoy, was arrested and charged in the murder of Michael Bishop on Sept. 12; he's also charged with shooting Haywood, the mother of the boy injured in the machete attack.
Surveillance video from David Dees also helped police identify the suspect. Investigators saw video from before the attack showing Portugues with a machete in his hand. A tree partially obscures the scene, but the footage clearly showed a man raising a large machete and brandishing it in a threatening manner.
Portugues will be sentenced by Kenton Circuit Judge Gregory Bartlett on Nov. 22.