Day 5 of Juan David Ortiz capital murder trial
BEXAR COUNTY, TX. (KGNS) - On Friday, the jury heard from Ortiz himself on the last moments of the four women; Melissa Ramirez, Claudine Anne Luera, Griselda Cantu, and Jannelle Ortiz and what they told Ortiz before they were killed.
It was emotional day in court for the family members of the victims to hear the final words of the four women.
After hours’ worth of interrogation footage, Juan David Ortiz is heard confessing to the murders of Melissa Ramirez, Claudine Anne Luera, Griselda Cantu, and Jannelle Ortiz.
In day 5 of the trial, Webb County Sheriff Captain Federico Calderon told jurors the contents of disk 7 of the interrogation, which contained details of the crime scenes.
Calderon details that during the confession, it’s established that the murder weapon was a .40 caliber pistol that was given to Ortiz during his employment with Border Patrol.
According to Calderon, three-gun casings were found at the crime scene of Melissa Ramirez, two in the case of Claudine Luera and in Griselda Cantu’s three casings.
The casings were sent to the crime lab of Texas Department of Public Safety, to compare the characteristics of each casing and if they were fired from the same weapon.
During the trial, images of Griselda Cantu and the injuries she sustained were shown to the jury. Officials say that Cantu’s body was discovered by a driver who was passing by the area.
During the interrogation, Calderon told the jurors, Ortiz confessed about another murder which later turned out to be the discovery of Janelle Ortiz’ body on mile marker 15.
Disk 7 was played for the jurors, which started with Ortiz telling the officers, “I was driving on San Ber and this is when the monster came out”, they are so dirty, they are prostituting out in the streets, why the [expletive] doesn’t anybody take out these [expletive]?” referring to the individuals who are identified as prostitutes in Laredo, Texas.
In the video, Ortiz confessed to picking up a woman at the gas station and wanting to, “clean up the streets if nobody else is going to [expletive] do it.”
Ortiz is heard trying to rationalize his actions by saying the women were “Not good people”.
The woman he picked up was Claudine Luera.
He told the officer they went to visit the place where Ramirez’ body was found, on the way Ortiz claims that Luera panicked and said, “You’re probably the killer” to which Ortiz responded, “Shut the [expletive] up.”
Ortiz ordered Luera out of his truck and Ortiz states, “Then it was all over” and Luera, “Didn’t see it coming.”
The next day, Ortiz picked up Erika Pena and mentions Melissa Ramirez.
When Pena ran away, Ortiz went home and loaded several of his weapons with ammunition, left his house and then bought beer at the Murphy’s Gas Station on International.
He told officers; he had a moment where he asked himself, “Why don’t I just keep cleaning up the streets?”
Afterwards, he picked up another woman he didn’t know.
She was later identified as Griselda Cantu.
While driving north on I-35, Ortiz noticed several DPS troopers and figured an alert was put out.
After noticing the law enforcement officer, Ortiz parked under a bridge where he told Cantu, “Walk that way and you’re in San Antonio, walk that way and you’re going to go to Laredo.”
Cantu questioned Ortiz about letting her go, to which he responded, “I want you to relay a message, you know all these [expletive]murders that’s been on the news? I’m the one who did it.”
Cantu told Ortiz, “Why? God loves you; God will forgive you, okay?”
Ortiz said Cantu started to walk away but return which is when he allegedly shot her multiple times.
In the midst of the alleged crimes, Ortiz, admitted that he contemplated suicide.
He then confessed to another body that he picked up on San Bernardo.
Ortiz said that he picked up a “Tranny”, identified as a Janelle Ortiz.
After picking up Janelle Ortiz, Juan David Ortiz said that Janelle recognized him as the man accused of murder.
Ortiz then took Janelle to mile marker 15 and killed her behind a pile of gravel.
Ortiz said, “It took a few steps, shot him one time.”
He later went on San Bernardo to a store and that’s when the two troopers confronted Ortiz, he said he fled towards a hotel and was “[expletive] that he didn’t have his weapon”.
Ortiz finished his confession by telling officers the moments leading up to his arrest.
In the footage, the officers thank Ortiz for confessing and offered him food.
Calderon is asked if a warrant was obtained to search Ortiz’ home, to which he said he did. Pictures of the ammunition found inside Ortiz’s home were shown to jurors.
The remainder of the interrogation video shows the moments after Ortiz’s confession. The officers are seen leaving the room; meanwhile, Ortiz remains quiet with his head down.
Eventually food is brought in, and he’s seen calmly eating.
Meanwhile in the courtroom, Ortiz’s mother was seen wiping away the tears.
Later, Ortiz’s defense questioned Calderon’s training with the Webb County Sheriff’s Office. The report he wrote about the case and who oversaw the investigation to which Calderon answered he had 17 years with the office, and it was a joint investigation between law enforcement agencies.
Ortiz’ attorney asked in depth of the report submitted about the investigation and interrogation. Calderon was asked about interrogating Ortiz, although Ortiz had stated his mental state was not well. The defense goes over Ortiz’s issues with the veteran’s affairs, medication prescribed, alcohol consumption and his experiences in Iraq.
During the testimony, it’s revealed Ortiz’ father died by an apparent suicide.
Ortiz’s request to be placed under isolation, pleas to help his wife are questioned and if it was used to sway Ortiz to confess.
The words used by the officers during the interrogation was analyzed by attorneys.
The defense questioned Calderon of conversations he had with Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz the day of Ortiz’s interrogation, to which Calderon said he did not remember word per word of it.
Ortiz defense went over the evidence which included the seizure of Ortiz’s truck.
Questions surrounding Ortiz’s memory recollection, Ortiz’s rights, and evidenced seized were once again brought up to Calderon.
The state brought back Noe Gonzalez, one of the arresting officers in the Ortiz case. Gonzalez testified before jurors on day 2 of the trial.
Gonzalez reiterated how Ortiz was arrested and the property that was seized.
Judge Oscar Hale excused the jurors for the day, and the trial will continue Monday, December 5th at 8:30 a.m.
KGNS News will bring you the latest details on the trial on air and online.
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