VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) –A Porterville man was sentenced to death Friday for the 2009 killing of a 23-year-old husband and father in his own home, according to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.
On the night of April 21, 2009 in Porterville, Adrian Ortiz, 31,and his girlfriend were arguing while driving in a car, said spokesman Stuart Anderson. Enraged, Ortiz pulled out a handgun and shot the dashboard, causing the car to be filled with smoke.
Ortiz’s girlfriend, who was driving, pulled over in front of a house occupied by one of her friends, her friend’s husband and their two-week old baby.
The girlfriend ran from the car crying to the house to talk to her friend about the abusive relationship. The friend’s husband, the victim in the case, was sitting on the couch with the baby.
Ortiz approached the doorway to continue the argument, but the victim told him to stay outside.
Anderson said that Ortiz and his girlfriend then left together until he began to punch her, who again fled to the house. The victim announced he was calling the police and the door to the house was locked.
Ortiz grabbed the gun from the car and threatened to kill the victim if he called the police.
Ortiz then kicked the door down and continued the threats while pointing the gun at the victim, who pleaded with Ortiz to not kill him, Anderson said. Pointing the gun at his head, Ortiz took the victim into the kitchen, sat him at a table and shot him in the neck.
The victim later died at the hospital. It was the first time Ortiz and the victim had ever met.
Ortiz, who was three-weeks shy of turning 20, fled to Mexico where he was captured by US Marshals in August 2012.
While in custody, Ortiz was convicted in 2013 for an assault on a jail deputy with the special allegation that the crime was gang-related, Anderson said. Evidence at the trial showed that in 2015, Ortiz tried to smuggle out a letter threatening to kill the victim’s wife if she testified against him.
Ortiz was found guilty on Oct. 27, 2020, of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of burglary and the special allegation of willful discharge of a firearm, burglary, witness intimidation, negligent discharge of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and misdemeanor domestic violence.
The penalty phase of the trial began on Nov. 2, 2020. A jury of six men and six women
voted for a death verdict on Nov. 5.
At the sentencing, a District Attorney Victim Advocate read two victim impact statements
written by the victim’s family into the record, Anderson said.
Ortiz’s prior convictions include felony convictions from 2008 for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger and evading, as well as numerous misdemeanor convictions since 2007.
“As I said before, this was a vicious act of violence. The patience of the victim’s family is commendable and we applaud the jury and the court for recognizing their loss and deciding the proper punishment,” said District Attorney Tim Ward.
Ortiz will join 14 other Tulare County men who are currently on death row.