Ex-Border Patrol agent accused of killing 4 goes on trial

Nov 28, 2022, 4:11 PM | Updated: 5:09 pm
Capital murder defendant and former U.S. Border Patrol Juan David Ortiz looks around the courtroom ...

Capital murder defendant and former U.S. Border Patrol Juan David Ortiz looks around the courtroom before the start of the first day of the trial before Webb County State District Court Judge Oscar J. Hale, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Ortiz is charged in the 2018 deaths of four women near Laredo. The trial was moved to San Antonio because of pretrial media coverage in Laredo. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

(Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The capital murder trial began Monday of a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who confessed to killing four sex workers in South Texas, telling investigators he wanted to “clean up the streets” of his border hometown.

If convicted of capital murder, Juan David Ortiz, 39, faces life in prison without parole because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

At the time of his arrest, Ortiz, a Navy veteran, was a Border Patrol intel supervisor. He was arrested in Laredo on Sept. 15, 2018, after Erika Pena escaped from him and asked a state trooper for help. Ortiz pleaded not guilty Monday to capital murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful restraint and evading arrest.

“You will see and you will hear, through his own words, how he took each woman to their last resting place, how he executed them,” Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz told jurors during opening statements. “You will hear in his own words the indifference, the disrespect, the degradation that he has for these people.”

“You will hear the evidence in this own words: ‘I wanted to clean up the streets,'” Alaniz said, adding that Ortiz in Spanish called the women “dirt.”

Ortiz is standing trial in San Antonio, in Bexar County, following a defense request to move the trial from Webb County due to extensive media coverage.

Alaniz also said that during the confession, Ortiz told investigators where to find the body of one of his victims.

Ortiz’s attorney, Joel Perez, told jurors in opening statements that investigators had jumped to conclusions, and that his client’s confession was “coerced.” He said his client was “broken” and “suicidal” when he made the confession after being questioned for over eight hours. Months earlier, the veteran had been put on “a bunch of psychotic pills” after seeking help when he was unable to sleep and having nightmares, Perez said.

Ortiz told investigators he’d had blackouts as well, Perez said.

“This is a defeated man,” Perez said.

Melissa Ramirez, 29, was killed on Sept. 3, 2018, and 42-year-old Claudine Luera was killed on Sept. 13, 2018.

On Sept. 14, 2018, Ortiz picked up Pena, who told investigators that Ortiz acted oddly when she brought up Ramirez’s slaying. Pena testified Monday that she took off running when Ortiz pointed a gun at her in a truck at a gas station, and was crying as she approached a state trooper who was refueling his vehicle.

Ortiz fled and, he later told investigators, picked up and killed his last two victims, 35-year-old Guiselda Alicia Cantu and 28-year-old Janelle Ortiz. Authorities eventually tracked Juan David Ortiz to a hotel parking garage where he was arrested.

Each of his victims was shot in the head and left along rural Laredo-area roads. One died of blunt force trauma after being shot.

“Through the evidence, we will take you … to those last moments of these women’s lives,” Alaniz told jurors on Monday.

The Border Patrol placed Ortiz on indefinite, unpaid suspension after his arrest. When asked Monday for an update on his current employment status, a Border Patrol official said the agency doesn’t comment on “pending litigation.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              The Webb County prosecution team arrives for the first day in the capital murder trial of former U.S. Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz, before Webb County State District Court Judge Oscar J. Hale, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Ortiz is charged in the 2018 deaths of four women near Laredo. The trial was moved to San Antonio because of pretrial media coverage in Laredo. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
            
              Webb County District Attorney Isidro R. "Chilo" Alaniz comforts victims' family members before the first day in the capital murder trial of former U.S. Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz, before Webb County State District Court Judge Oscar J. Hale, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Ortiz is charged in the 2018 deaths of four women near Laredo. The trial was moved to San Antonio because of pretrial media coverage in Laredo. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
            
              Capital murder defendant and former U.S. Border Patrol Juan David Ortiz talks with one of his attorneys, Joel Perez, before the start of the first day of the trial before Webb County State District Court Judge Oscar J. Hale, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Ortiz is charged in the 2018 deaths of four women near Laredo. The trial was moved to San Antonio because of pretrial media coverage in Laredo. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
            
              During opening statements, Webb County District Attorney Isidro R. "Chilo" Alaniz points to the defendant, former U.S. Border Patrol supervisor Juan David Ortiz, during Ortiz' capital murder trial before Webb County State District Court Judge Oscar J. Hale, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Ortiz is charged in the 2018 deaths of four women near Laredo. The trial was moved to San Antonio because of pretrial media coverage in Laredo. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
            
              During opening statements, Webb County District Attorney Isidro R. "Chilo" Alaniz shows photographs of a victim during the capital murder trial of former U.S. Border Patrol supervisor Juan David Ortiz before Webb County State District Court Judge Oscar J. Hale, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Ortiz is charged in the 2018 deaths of four women near Laredo. The trial was moved to San Antonio because of pretrial media coverage in Laredo. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
            
              Prosecution witness Erika Pena, 31, shows how capital murder suspect and former U.S. Border Patrol supervisor Juan David Ortiz, held a gun to her, as she testifies during his trial before Webb County State District Court Judge Oscar J. Hale, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Ortiz is charged in the 2018 deaths of four women near Laredo. The trial was moved to San Antonio because of pretrial media coverage in Laredo. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
            
              Capital murder defendant and former U.S. Border Patrol Juan David Ortiz looks around the courtroom before the start of the first day of the trial before Webb County State District Court Judge Oscar J. Hale, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Ortiz is charged in the 2018 deaths of four women near Laredo. The trial was moved to San Antonio because of pretrial media coverage in Laredo. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

AP

NASCAR Cup Series drivers Chris Buescher (17) and Alex Bowman (48) participate during a practice se...
Associated Press

Ally Financial expands NASCAR spend with 2 new partnerships

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ally Financial has expanded its growing portfolio as a top NASCAR sponsor with a deal to become the official bank of the stock car series and NASCAR-owned race tracks. The multiyear deal was announced Sunday ahead of NASCAR’s exhibition extravaganza at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and led to the creation […]
11 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting, Friday, Feb. 3, 202...
Associated Press

Biden’s State of the Union to tout policy wins on economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will use his second State of the Union address on Tuesday to remind Americans of how their lives have been improved over his first two years in office, as he tries to confront pessimism in the country and navigate the tricky politics of a newly divided Washington. Rather than […]
11 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

NFL offering free CPR training during Super Bowl week

The NFL and American Heart Association will provide free CPR education in Arizona throughout Super Bowl week as part of the NFL Experience.
11 hours ago
/// State Sen. Clarence Lam, a Maryland Democrat who is a physician at Johns Hopkins, speaks during...
Associated Press

As many as 80K Marylanders could lose Medicaid eligibility

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland officials are preparing for as many as 80,000 residents who could no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage this spring, as the federal government reinstates a requirement that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic for states to verify the eligibility of recipients. Michele Eberle, the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit […]
11 hours ago
FILE - A fuel trucks drives along a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 27, 2023. European Union go...
Associated Press

Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe imposed a ban Sunday on Russian diesel fuel and other refined oil products, slashing energy dependency on Moscow and seeking to further crimp the Kremlin’s fossil fuel earnings as punishment for invading Ukraine. The ban comes along with a price cap agreed by the Group of Seven allied democracies. The […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Outgoing British Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks outside Downing Street in London, on Oct. 2...
Associated Press

It wasn’t me: Ex-UK PM Truss blames ‘system’ for her failure

LONDON (AP) — Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss says her failure wasn’t her fault. Truss on Sunday blamed a “powerful economic establishment” and internal Conservative Party opposition for the rapid collapse of her government, and said she still believes her tax-cutting policies were the right ones. Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister resigned in October, six […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Ex-Border Patrol agent accused of killing 4 goes on trial