Jury finds ex-Border Patrol supervisor guilty of killing four Laredo women

Juan David Ortiz automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole

SAN ANTONIO – A jury on Wednesday found a former Border Patrol supervisor guilty of capital murder.

Jurors deliberated for over five hours before delivering their decision on Juan David Ortiz, who was then convicted in the shooting deaths of four women in Laredo in 2018.

Ortiz’s trial lasted for eight days after the prosecution put up 16 witnesses.

The prosecution closed on Tuesday and the defense soon followed closing after putting no witnesses on the stand.

Ortiz’s trial was tried in Bexar County on a change of venue.

The two sides made final arguments on Wednesday afternoon.

Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz told jurors that Ortiz “was a serial killer then, he’s a serial killer now.” Alaniz called the video of Ortiz’s confession to the killings that was played to the jury “the best evidence.” Alaniz said the video was valid evidence because Ortiz “never exercised his right to terminate the interview.” He added that the investigators interviewing Ortiz were “professional” in the interrogation and “there was no inducement.”

Defense attorney Joel Perez countered by telling jurors not to consider the confession video as part of their deliberations because in his opinion, the confession was “improper inducement” and claimed the investigators were involved in quid pro quo with the defendant.

Perez also said that Ortiz’s pickup truck should never have been searched because a search warrant wasn’t obtained.

“Is this guy a real serial killer?” Perez asked jurors. “He didn’t have that capacity. You have to look at the guy in front of you. Broken, PTSD, nightmares, insomnia.”

Perez also asked jurors to consider Ortiz’s deployments to Iraq and his stellar career for the US Border Patrol.

The courtroom was packed with the families of the victims who were wearing t-shirts that said “They are loved,” and photos of each of the four women, Melissa Ramirez, Claudine Luera, Guiselda Cantu and Janelle Ortiz.

Several family members faced Ortiz after the verdict was read and spoke their peace.

“Do you know how much pain you have caused this family?” a family member of Melissa Ramirez said. “I hate you for what you did and I can never forgive you, nor do I think God will. You deserve to suffer in prison and go to hell.”

“What you did to my mother, Claudine , is a horrible thing,” her daughter said. “You will be long forgotten in our memories and locked up until you die.”

Since the Webb County District Attorney’s Office decided not to seek the death penalty Ortiz was automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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:

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.

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