Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ortiz Released 10 Years After Wrongful Murder Conviction

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Josue Ortiz has spent the last 10 years in state prison for the shooting deaths of Nelson and Miguel Camacho.

"He stood in a court of law with two attorneys, put his hand on the Bible, raised his right hand and said 'I did it," said Frank Sedita, D-Erie County District Attorney.

But despite his multiple confessions, Tuesday Ortiz was released after his conviction was overturned.

"There had been significant developments in this case within the last two weeks that raised, in my mind, at least a reasonable doubt as to Mr. Ortiz's guilt," said Sedita.

According to Western District U.S. Attorney William Hochul, new evidence from a two-year federal investigation into the 7th Street Gang and the case itself that determined: "Mr. Ortiz had no role in the murder whatsoever," he said.

Instead, a federal indictment names Efrain Hidalgo, Brandon Jonas and Misael Montalvo in the deaths. A fourth suspect was too young at the time to face federal charges. Interviews with more than 100 witnesses were unable to place Ortiz, 6 feet tall and more than 300 pounds at the time, at the scene. A diagnosed schizophrenic, evidence showed no connection between the suspects and Ortiz. His attorney, Jeremy Schwartz, said his mental state played a role in his confessions.

"It's very hard to wrap your mind around someone who would confess to something he had no involvement with, that's understandable," he said.

Hochul expressed concern over Ortiz's mental state Tuesday morning, saying he was hopeful Ortiz would get the help he needed. Set for release Tuesday afternoon, Ortiz will head back to Buffalo and live with family while he gets on his feet.

"He's happy for the results of today and he's still processing the information," explained Schwartz. "This is all very new."

The three indicted in the case face federal racketeering charges, including murder, which carries with a life sentence if convicted. Their trials are set for March 2015.

Original report here

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