A former Border Patrol agent who confessed to killing four sex workers in 2018 was convicted of capital murder on Wednesday after a jury heard investigators tell him he wanted to kill “the streets” of his town in South Texas. was trying to “clean up”.
Juan David Ortiz, 39, receives life in prison without the possibility of parole after prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty.
Ortiz, a Border Patrol intelligence supervisor at the time of his arrest, was charged with the murder of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez; Claudine Anne Luera, 42; Giselda Alicia Cantu, 35; and Janelle Ortiz, 28. Their bodies were discovered in September 2018 on the streets outside Laredo.
During her trial, which began last week, jurors heard Ortiz’s confession during a lengthy taped interview with investigators.
Ortiz told investigators that he was a client of most of his victims, but he also expressed contempt for sex workers, describing them as “garbage” and “dirty” and insisting that he wanted to “clean up the streets”. Is.
He said that “the demon came out” as he was driving by the women on a Laredo street.
Following the verdict, members of the victims’ families relayed their position to Ortiz. Ramirez’s sister-in-law, Gracie Perez, said the victim was “a sweet, kind, funny person.” He told Ortiz that Ramirez’s children were heartbroken.
“Do you realize how much damage you have caused this family?” Perez asked. He said, “My heart is broken knowing that I will never see her again, but will visit her at the cemetery.”
Defense attorneys argued that Ortiz was improperly induced to confess and that his confession should not count. Defense attorney Joel Perez argued that Ortiz, a Navy veteran who was stationed in Iraq, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, suffering from insomnia, nightmares and headaches, was on medication and had been drinking that night.
Prosecutors told the jury that it was a valid confession made by a senior police officer who was not suffering from a mental breakdown.
Erika Peña testified that Ortiz picked her up on the night of September 14, 2018, and that when he told her that he was “the last person” to have sex with Ramirez, whose body had been found a week earlier, was unbelievable. Peña testified that she was concerned that investigators would find her DNA on the corpse.
Peña told the jury, “It made me think he might be responsible for the murder.”
Peña fled Ortiz’s truck at a gas station when he pointed his pistol at her; Peña ran straight to where a patrol car was refueling. Ortiz fled.
Authorities discovered Ortiz in a hotel parking lot in the early hours of September 15, 2018, and he was arrested.