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Border Patrol Agent Convicted of Murder

State

Former Texas Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz | Image by KENS 5

Former Texas Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz was convicted on Wednesday of capital murder for killing four sex workers in 2018.

The 39-year-old Ortiz confessed to the crime and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Ortiz was in the U.S. Navy for almost eight years, serving three years with the Marines. His military service included multiple medical posts.

In the courtroom this week, prosecutors presented evidence of Ortiz saying he wanted to “clean up the streets” in his Southern Texas hometown.

The bodies of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, 35-year-old Guiselda Alicia Cantu, and 28-year-old Janelle Ortiz were found in Laredo in September of 2018. Ortiz was reportedly a customer of the sex workers, but also treated them scornfully, calling them “dirty” in interviews with investigators.

Family members gave their statements to Ortiz after the verdict was rendered in the trial. Melissa Ramirez’s sister-in-law, Gracie Perez, spoke about the pain he has brought to Ramirez’s children.

Ortiz’s attorneys called his confession improperly induced, additionally stating that he has PTSD from his time in Iraq.

Prosecutors argued for the validity of the confession, stating that Ortiz was not in the midst of a mental breakdown.

Erika Pena, a woman who escaped Ortiz, gave her testimony. She told the court that Ortiz had told her he was worried once Ramirez’s body was discovered that his DNA would be found on her.

Ortiz pointed a gun at her, and Pena escaped to a gas station, where she sought help from a state trooper.

On September 15, 2018, the day after Pena’s encounter with him, Ortiz was found and arrested.

The women all died of fatal gunshot wounds, except for Cantu, who was shot in the neck and then died of blunt force trauma to her head.

A ballistics expert testified that the bullets found at the crime scenes matched Ortiz’s weapon.

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