death penalty news—-TEXAS

Jan. 25

TEXAS—-impending execution

El Pasoan on death row to be executed Thursday

El Pasoan Ricardo Ortiz, convicted in 1999 of capital murder, is scheduled
to be executed Thursday, Jan. 29, according to the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice's Web site.

Ortiz was convicted in June 1999 in the heroin overdose death of Gerardo
Garcia while they were cellmates in the El Paso county jail in Aug. 1997.

Ortiz's defense lawyer, Jaime Gandara, said in a 1999 El Paso Times
article that Ortiz had been an altar boy at Our Lady of Guadalupe church
and had attended St. Charles Seminary for 6 weeks. Then "something
happened," Gandara said. "It's not something he talks about, but all of a
sudden he was on a different path."

The jury did not hear any evidence on Ortiz's past other than his long
criminal history. Gandara said Ortiz didn't want his family cross-examined
if called as character witnesses.

Ortiz was first imprisoned on aggravated robbery charges. According to
prison records, he stabbed another inmate with a homemade spear. When
paroled, he allegedly shot and killed a fellow member of the Texas
Syndicate prison gang.

Prosecutors maintained that he injected Garcia with a fatal drug dose to
prevent him from telling the FBI about bank robberies they committed.

There are 10 El Pasoans on death row in Texas, but Ortiz is the only one
who's name currently appears on the scheduled execution list.

(source: El Paso Times)