SAN ANTONIO – After two days of interrogation video of an ex-Border Patrol supervisor being shown to the jury, his confession and motive were finally heard on Friday.
Juan David Ortiz is on trial for capital murder in the deaths of four women in Webb County in 2018.
The first several hours of the interrogation video show Ortiz denying or knowing any of the victims, but then he asks them to take off his handcuffs.
After Webb County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Federico Calderon does so, Ortiz begins to confess.
“I just wanted to clean up the streets if nobody is going to do it,” Ortiz said.
He describes how his first victim, Melissa Ramirez, had passed out after doing drugs in his truck and when she began to wake she started mouthing off to him.
Ortiz said he pulled over on Highway 225 near Jefferies Road in North Webb County so she could urinate and that is when he shot her twice in the back of the head.
The defendant said 10 days later he decided to kill again as he said in the video and on Sept. 13, 2018, he picked up Claudine Luera.
Luera at some point realized they were in the same area where Ramirez was found and started asking him to take her away from the area.
Ortiz said he pulled over near Jefferies Road and shot Luera, who died later in the hospital.
On Sept. 14, 2018, Ortiz said he was supposed to go to San Antonio with his wife and kids but a water leak in his home forced him to stay.
Later that day he picked up Erika Peña and described how they were at his house when she said she didn’t feel well and threw up in his yard.
“We went to the gas station and that’s when she started acting crazy,” Ortiz said.
The defendant said he just showed her his gun, but Peña testified on Monday said Ortiz pointed the gun at her head.
When Peña got away, Ortiz said he went back home and figured Peña had told police about their encounter.
He later went back out and picked up Guiselda Cantu.
Ortiz said he had never seen Cantu before and started driving north on Interstate 35 and noticed police driving around the area.
“I pulled over under the overpass and told her to get out,” Ortiz said.
The defendant told Cantu to walk either north to San Antonio or south toward Laredo. Ortiz explained how he was the one who killed the other women and that he was going to kill himself.
“She started telling me that God loves me and that God would forgive me,” Ortiz said. “She walks away and walks back and I said, ‘you aren’t listening to me, and boom, boom.’”
Cantu had blunt-force trauma to the head and a gunshot wound to the neck. Her body was found at the time police were arresting Ortiz at a hotel parking lot.
Investigators then hear Ortiz tell them about a fourth unknown victim, Janelle Ortiz, who is not related to the defendant.
Ortiz said he went back to San Bernardo Avenue and recognized Ortiz and picked her up.
While they are driving north on I-35 the defendant said Janelle Ortiz starts saying, “It’s you, you’re the one.”
That’s when he said he pulled over on Mile Marker 15 near a big gravel mound and ordered her out.
The defendant said he expected her to put up a fight, but that she knew she was going to be shot.
“She takes a few steps and then ‘boom,’” Ortiz said while using his hands to imitate a gun.
After that, he said, is when he went to the gas station and was approached by DPS troopers.
Ortiz said he ran and hid in the back of the pickup truck in a parking garage. While he was waiting, he called his wife.
“We were a great family, take care of my babies, don’t come back to Laredo,” Ortiz said he told his wife.
Ortiz was arrested on Sept. 15, 2018, soon after that call.
Following the video, defense attorney Joel Perez challenged Calderon on how he and Texas Ranger EJ Salinas got Ortiz to confess.
Perez asked Calderon if there was a quid pro quo between the investigators and the defendant. Perez pointed out that the investigators told Ortiz that his wife was going to need his retirement savings because he was going to prison.
Perez suggested that during the interrogation, Calderon insinuated that he would help Ortiz’s wife get those benefits if Ortiz confessed.
“That was not my intention,” Calderon fired back. ”Did you coerce Mr. Ortiz?” Perez asked Calderon. Calderon told him, “At no time, no sir.”
Perez also brought up the fact that Ortiz was given chips and water at first during the interrogation but was given a meal from Whataburger after he confessed to the crimes.
Testimony will resume at 8:30 a.m. Monday. 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.
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