WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 01, 2013, 04:31 PM

The courtroom was filled with emotions for Raul Perez’s first hearing

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Man accused of murdering a 22-month year old girl shows up to his first hearing today and it was extremely emotional.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Family and friends of Raul Perez call him an innocent man, after showing up for his first hearing. But on the other side of the courtroom, people who loved Ariel Reyes sat remembering the little life they lost.

The mood inside the courtroom today was an extremely emotional. Family of Raul Perez upset after the judge set his 1-million dollar cash bail. While those close to Ariel Reyes watched the man accused of murdering their 22-month old girl, some in tears.

Ida Reyes/Victim's Aunt: "I feel anger, hurt, and try to keep your strength and composure because it's something that, she was innocent. She didn't deserve this."

Family of 22-month old Ariel Reyes filled a Norman County courtroom, hoping for peace of mind after her unexpected death.

Ida Reyes: "We just want justice for Ariel."

Ariel's mother, who moved from her Ada home to Texas after the August murder, believes ex-boyfriend Raul Perez killed her baby girl. But those close to him say she's wrong.

Valerie Vega: "I think she's just mad because they're not together anymore."

Valerie Vega is now dating Perez and believes Ariel's mom is out to get her boyfriend after their relationship went south.

"She keeps changing her story. If that was true why didn't she say it from the beginning?"

Both the victim's and Perez's families say Ariel's murder came as a shock, after she received fatal injuries including head and neck trauma, in this Ada apartment complex.

Ida Reyes: "Traumatic. It's something that is hard to live with."

Ariel's family now left with only memories of their little ray of light, while Vega hopes the man she loves is one day free.

Valerie Vega: "We take care of his nephews and nieces and why would they leave them with him if he's like that?"

Ida Reyes: "She was innocent, she was sweet, and she was happy always."

Ariel's mother and older brother are now living in Texas, but her biological father lives in Moorhead.

Family says he could not make the hearing because he's still grieving.