A juror passed out in court after seeing the autopsy photos of the four women who were allegedly killed by a former US Border Patrol agent.
A male juror collapsed to the ground on Monday as Webb County Medical Examiner Dr. Corinne Stern displayed photos of four women who had been shot in the head and neck.
The photos were displayed on the sixth day of testimony in the murder case of Juan David Ortiz in San Antonio, Texas. The former agent is accused of killing four prostitutes over the course of a 12-day killing spree in 2018.
A fifth woman, a key witness in the case, claims she would have been his next victim had she not managed to flee.
A gasp was heard from the jury box as fellow jurors raced over to assist the unconscious man. The medical examiner examined the pale-looking juror and found him to be in good health; he was subsequently released from jury duty. He was replaced by a substitute juror.
The murders happened in the Texas border city of Laredo, but the trial was transferred to San Antonio as a result of broad media coverage.
According to the prosecutors, Ortiz acknowledged knowing three of the women he is accused of killing. They claim that Ortiz told investigators that he promised to assist them in purchasing drugs and then have sex with them.
As the medical examiner described the victims’ causes of death, the family members wept in court.
The four women who were allegedly killed by Juan David Ortiz:
29-year-old Melissa Ramirez, Claudine Anne Luera and 28-year-old Humberto Ortiz, a transgender woman who went by Janelle Ortiz, were all shot to death.
35-year-old Guiselda Alicia Hernandez passed away from blunt force head injuries caused by an unknown object, according to the medical examiner. In September 2018, their four remains were found in a rural area of Laredo.
Erika Pena, the fifth woman, testified how Ortiz attempted to shoot her after an altercation with him. Pena said she managed to flee in her underwear, running to a Texas state trooper for help.
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The victims’ families believe a death sentence for Ortiz would be “letting him off easy,” and as a result, prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
Ortiz entered a not guilty plea to the crimes, and the trial continues.