Jurors view interrogation video of ex-Border Patrol agent on trial for killing 4 women in Laredo

Juan David Ortiz is charged with capital murder; trial moved to Bexar County on change of venue request

SAN ANTONIO – The jury in the capital murder trial of an ex-Border Patrol agent on Wednesday viewed a video of his interrogation following his arrest on suspicion of killing four women in Laredo in 2018.

Juan David Ortiz was interrogated for about 10 hours at the Webb County Sheriff’s Office substation on Sept. 15, 2018 about the four fatal shootings of prostitutes.

The video started with Ortiz sitting alone handcuffed in an interrogation room for at least 30 minutes. Ortiz at times seemed impatient and made gestures to law enforcement officers standing outside the room that seemed to indicate “what’s going on?”

Texas Ranger EJ Salinas and Capt. Federico Calderon of the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, who both led the investigation, entered the room and began interviewing the defendant.

In the video, Ortiz at first claimed that he didn’t know why he was being questioned.

Investigator: “Do you know why you are here?”

Ortiz: “No.”

Investigator: “Can you explain what happened earlier at the gas station.”

Ortiz: “I don’t know.”

WATCH KSAT COVERAGE FROM DAY 3 OF TRIAL

Calderon testified Wednesday that Ortiz was calm at first and denied knowing Erika Peña, who testified on Monday that the defendant pulled a gun on her inside his pickup truck before she ran to a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pleading for help. The incident is what helped crack the case.

“He said he didn’t know any Erika from Laredo but knew of one from his hometown of Brownsville,” Calderon said on the witness stand.

Calderon said that Ortiz “didn’t seem to be under distress” and seemed to understand all he was asked and did not display signs of mental illness, although he did mention having PTSD and said he suffered from depression, migraine headaches and had an alcohol problem. He also mentioned have issues with blackouts.

When asked if he has ever been in trouble with the law, Ortiz replied, “Never been arrested in my life, nada, nothing.”

When the investigators asked Ortiz why he ran from a DPS trooper who confronted him in front of a Stripes convenience store, he said he was scared to see an AR-15 pointed at him.

Ortiz denied knowing who two purses found in his truck belonged to, which Peña said was hers.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. KSAT 12 will be streaming the entire proceedings, from gavel to gavel, on KSAT.com, KSAT Plus and YouTube.

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

Learn more about this case by watching KSAT’s exclusive “Open Court: The Trial of Juan David Ortiz on KSAT.com, KSAT Plus or on KSAT’s YouTube channel.

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About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.