Abel Ortiz back on trial for 2019 Panama City Beach fatal shooting

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Testimony began Tuesday in the felony murder and attempted armed robbery trial of Abel Ortiz. He was previously tried twice, both ultimately resulting in mistrials.

Ortiz, 20, is one of five suspects arrested in the 2019 killing of Edward Ross, 30, who was shot to death in his father’s home in Panama City Beach.

His first trial back in March ended in a mistrial after jurors could not agree on a verdict. In his second trial, Ortiz was found guilty of murder and attempted robbery. But he was granted a new trial after it was determined jurors had learned about the first mistrial during deliberations.

State attorneys said it was a robbery gone wrong. Five men including Ortiz, Andre Bivins, Jorge Hernandez, Joshua Campbell, and Jorge Perez were all arrested with charges related to the incident but the only person acquitted was Perez.

The prosecution and the defense gave opening arguments first. The state called ten witnesses including Ross’ father and two suspects who took plea deals. The State Attorney’s Office asked NewsChannel 7 not to show the faces of the codefendants to protect their privacy.

Neighbors also gave testimonies. One allegedly saw the men running away from the house after shots were fired. Another, who had a close relationship with Ross, said she ran in and found him on the floor.

“And he was laying there and I had to flip him on his back and I started trying to do CPR on him the best I could and when I would give him breaths, I could tell that it wasn’t going in the right place. It was just coming out of holes in his body,” witness Valerie Maddox said.

Ortiz’s former high school teacher Samantha Boyd also took the stand, saying Ortiz came to her confessing the crime just a few weeks after it happened.

“He began to tell me that he had killed someone and I was just like you ain’t killed no one. And was like trying to convince me saying yes I did. And I said I pray to god that you did not do that. And I just kept you know kept repeating saying I don’t think that you did it. And so he said you can look it up, it happened on the beach,” Boyd said.

A deputy with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office was called up just after lunch. While being cross-examined by the defense, he was asked if there was any proof of the conversation recovered in surveillance videos. He replied they did not find any proof.

Court proceedings will resume Wednesday morning.

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