by Peyton Leone
Emanuel Herrera Cortes and Aldair Rameriez Vera appeared in the Eureka courthouse on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Both defendants have been charged with felony assault against Caden Cuevas, a former Cal Poly Humboldt student. Both Defendants have been out on bail since they pled not guilty on March 30, 2023. Their trial has been set for April 2, 2024. They are the main suspects in a brutal assault outside of the Arcata Theater Lounge in October 2022.
The assault happened before a concert at a popular college venue in Arcata. Before the event, Cuevas was waiting in line with his friend Nathan Cruz when they heard a group of Latine people in front of them using the “N word”. When Cuevas told the group not to use the slur, they insulted him. While exiting the building after the show, Cuevas was confronted and jumped by the group.
Cuevas recalls five people taking part in the attack. From the crowd of bystanders, only two people came to Cuevas’ defense. The attackers fled the scene leaving Cuevas in an unconscious state drenched in a pool of blood. A bystander who called the police alerted them to what they thought was a murder. As a result of the multiple injuries, Cuevas had to undergo an emergency lifesaving surgery.
“I only survived because surgeons were able to take 95% of the blood out of my head,” said Cuevas in a recent interview with El Leñador January.
Herrera Cortes and Rameriez Vera were identified by the Arcata Police Department using security footage from ATM cameras at a bank across the street from the theater.
Cuevas graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt in Fall 2023 with a degree in physics. He hopes to one day complete his lifelong goal of working at NASA where he has had three internships. Most of all he said he wants to enjoy life.
Though Cuevas is mostly healed from his injuries, he now has titanium plates in his skull that cause him discomfort. He has noticed memory issues, sensitivity to light causing headaches, and intense vertigo in the eye that was fractured.
He said the process of getting his case to trial has been hard.
“It was pretty lonely because I had to do everything by myself. I don’t have any other family or anything like that, and the cops were not very kind to me and kinda treated me like I was annoying,” said Cuevas.
Cuevas advises other students “Stand your ground, don’t let people just say stupid things all the time just because you’re scared. But also like, be careful because some people just don’t care about other people’s lives.”
Cuevas said the experience has made him realize his strength.
“Even though my left orbital was broken, my head was open, and my neck was fractured. I still went and I still did what I had to do in school and I still got it done, and I did that for myself.” said Cuevas. “Life is gonna fucking suck sometimes and it’s gonna be really hard, but as long as you keep trying you’ll get what you’re reaching for.”