Judge won’t reduce bond for border agent accused of killings

Texas

Dozens of family members and friends of four women who authorities say were killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent gather for a candlelight vigil at a park in downtown Laredo, Texas, on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Juan David Ortiz was arrested Saturday while hiding in a hotel parking garage. Investigators believe he fatally shot the four victims during separate attacks after taking each of them to desolate areas outside of Laredo. Investigators say a fifth victim escaped and contacted authorities. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

This undated file photo provided by the Webb County Sheriff’s Office shows U.S. Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz. Ortiz has pleaded not guilty to capital murder and other charges in the Sept. 2018 killings of four women who prosecutors say were sex workers. Ortiz entered the pleas Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, before a judge in the border city of Laredo. (Webb County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

LAREDO, Texas (AP) — A judge in Texas has declined to reduce the bond for a U.S. Border Patrol agent accused of killing four women last year who prosecutors say were sex workers.

KGNS-TV says the judge in the border city of Laredo on Thursday denied the bond reduction request for Juan David Ortiz. Ortiz, who is charged with capital murder , remains in Webb County jail on $2.5 million bond.

Those testifying at the hearing included Erika Pena , who told investigators she escaped from Ortiz’s truck after he pointed a gun at her. She ran to a state trooper who was refueling his vehicle and, with her help, authorities were able to find Ortiz and arrest him in September 2018.

It all began with the discovery Sept. 4, 2018, of the body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez. According to a police affidavit , Ortiz said he killed Ramirez a day earlier. Like the other victims, Ramirez was shot in the head and left in a road in rural northwest Webb County.

She was a mother of two.

A second victim, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, was found shot and left in the road Thursday morning, badly injured but still alive, according to the affidavit.

The mother of five died at a hospital later that day.

According to the affidavit, Ortiz told investigators that after Pena ran off, he picked up his last two victims, whose identities have not yet been released by authorities.

The district attorney has said he’ll seek the death penalty in the case.

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