Closing arguments begin in the Abel Ortiz trial

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:45 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:45 AM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Closing arguments will begin Thursday morning in the felony murder and attempted armed robbery trial of Abel Ortiz.

Wednesday wrapped up day two of the State v. Abel Ortiz case. He’s one of the men accused in the 2019 killing of Edward Ross, 30, who was shot to death in his father’s home in Panama City Beach.

Tuesday the prosecution called ten witnesses to the stand, and Wednesday another six testified before the state rested its case just after lunch. The defense had no witnesses, so they rested when Ortiz declined to take the stand himself.

Ortiz, 20, is facing charges of first-degree felony murder and attempted armed robbery in connection to the killing of Ross.

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 state called up multiple law enforcement officials, including Major Jimmy Stanford with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. He was was one of two people that questioned Ortiz roughly two months after the incident.

The ten-plus-minute interview was recorded and played back for the jury. During it, you can hear Ortiz explaining his side of what happened the night Ross was killed starting when he went knocking on the victim’s door and Ross’ father answered.

“Are you here to see my son? And I’m like yeah, for some weed. And he closes the door and doesn’t close the whole way. But it’s like five minutes since he had been back on the door. So I knock on the door again and it pushes open. That’s when they run in and I go in behind them. I second chance it but I go in behind them,” Ortiz said.

Something to note is that the audio was not recorded for a portion of the interview. Standford said they didn’t notice the wire had been unplugged. The part jurors heard came from a small recorder that was placed on the desk about halfway through questioning.

In the video, Ortiz said after he entered the house, only a few minutes passed before gunshots went off.

“And how many times did you shoot him,” Stanford asked.

“Like once or twice. And I was the last,” Ortiz replied.

“You were the last one to start shooting?”

“Because I didn’t know what to do. But none of my bullets, I don’t think none of my bullets touched him.”

“Why? Were you trying not to shoot him?”

“I wasn’t trying to shoot him. That’s what I’m literally saying. I wasn’t trying to shoot him, I shot straight. I think I hit the couch or something.”

Ortiz was previously tried twice, both ultimately resulting in mistrials.

Wednesday morning, jurors will hear closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense before they are sent to deliberate.

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