(TX) – The trial of Border Patrol Agent Juan David Ortiz, is in day five in San Antonio. Ortiz is accused of killing four women and attempting to kill a fifth. The murders occurred near Laredo. The fifth woman, Erika Peña, was able to get away from Ortiz after he pointed his gun at her. She escaped from his truck and ran to the front of the convenience store where a trooper with DPS was putting gas in his patrol car. The trooper called in the crime. DPS troopers and local deputies responded and chased Ortiz, corning him in a building where they took him into custody.
Ortiz is accused of killing Melissa Ramirez, 29, on Sept. 3, 2018, Claudine Anne Luera, 42, on Sept. 13, 2018, and Guiselda Alicia Hernandez, 35, and Janelle Ortiz, 28, both early on Sept. 15, 2018 shortly before his arrest.
Vulnerable Members of Society
Ortiz , a navy veteran, had been with the Border Patrol for ten years. He is also an educated man, having gotten his Master’s degree from St. Mary’s University. Ortiz knew certain types of people could go missing without causing too much of a response and he targeted those people. All five women were prostitutes who were addicted to drugs. Ortiz availed himself of their services and also bought drugs for the women. During the interrogation, Ortiz told the detectives that the women were trash and dirt.
Defense Attorney Attacks Victim
When questioned by detectives, Ortiz admitted to the killings. There was also a survivor from one of his attempts. That makes the defense attorney’s job very difficult. He has to try to discredit his client’s statement and the victim’s testimony. While it’s not legal to bring up the criminal history of a defendant during the trial, it’s completely legal to bring up the criminal history of those testifying against him.
Ortiz’s defense attorney attacked Erika Peña about her drug addiction at the time. He tried to lower her credibility by bringing up her sex work. He even tried to make her out to be a liar because she said the gun was point toward her head and in her original statement she said it was toward her chest. The woman was terrified at the time and as she moved, and he moved, the gun could easily have been pointed at either place at various moments.
The defense attorney has to do his job, that’s understandable, but it’s disgusting that victims have to be revictimized before they can get justice.
Surprising Decision by Prosecutors
If convicted of capital murder, Ortiz faces life in prison without parole because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
Texas is well-known for it’s frequent use of the death penalty. Here you have a man accused of taking advantage of people who are already leading a hard life. A man who used his victims for sex, who helped them to obtain drugs, and who felt justified in killing them because he hated what they were.
This is who prosecutors took the death penalty off the table for? A serial killer who targeted vulnerable women? Why? I’m fine with life in prison, but if this crime doesn’t justify a death penalty, then nothing else should.