Juan David Ortiz (a Border Patrol agent) was convicted in Texas of murdering four women in 12 hours.
Authorities have accused Ortiz, 39 of being a serial killer who preyed upon women “because he wanted to clean up the streets”Laredo was the border town where all four victims lived.
“Mr. Ortiz was a serial killer then and is a serial killer now,”Last week, Isidro Alaniz, the prosecutor, stated in closing arguments. “Cold, callous, calculating, just like that. It is terrifying to have the enemy within the ranks of law enforcement.”
Ortiz was convicted on all charges against him: four counts of first-degree capital murder, aggravated assault and unlawful restraint. After a two week trial, jurors deliberated for five hour before finding Ortiz guilty.
He was immediately sentenced to life imprisonment. Alaniz claimed he didn’t pursue the death penalty as victims’ families unanimously requested him not to. He said execution would be an easy way out for the man who had killed their loved ones by firing point-blank shots at the neck and head.
Ortiz’s victims included sex workers who, according to their families, struggled for years with drug dependence. Their workplace was San Bernardo Avenue. This thoroughfare is jammed full of motels, auto bodies shops, taco stands, convenience stores, and cheap motels.
Ortiz confessed during a nine hour interview with investigators to the murders. “I was continuing driving on San Bernardo, and then this is when the monster came out,” Ortiz said in his videotaped confession, which was played in court.
The defense lawyer for the client had failed to convince him that the confession was forced and that he was a man with insomnia and PTSD.
His victims were: Guiselda Alicia Hernandez, 35; Claudine Anne Luera, 42; Melissa Ramirez, 29; and Nikki Enriquez, 28, a transgender woman. They were both killed in 2018.
During the trial, which began Nov. 28, relatives of the victims sat in court, at times becoming overcome with emotion as details emerged of their family members’ deaths and autopsy findings were read aloud.
One juror fell to the ground when explicit autopsy photos were displayed.
The courtroom also heard the testimony of Erika Pena, who told jurors Ortiz picked her up on Sept. 14, 2018 and took her to his house, while his wife and kids were out of town. She testified that he was acting oddly, and later pulled out a gun while riding in his truck.
“He pointed it right at my face,” Pena said. She said Pena that when she opened the passenger doors to jump, he grabbed the shirt from her. But she was able run and ran, with only her bra visible.
“Someway, somehow, I took off running without my shirt,”She testified. “I took off running, I snapped.”
Family members were given the opportunity to confront their relatives’ killer after his conviction.
Maria Cristina Benavides was the mother of Ramirez. She spoke Spanish. “Melissa was a noble, sensitive person. You had no right to take her life,” she told Ortiz. “She was my life and my life is now over.”