LAREDO, Texas –Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Border Patrol agent accused of killing four women.
Isidro Alaniz, the district attorney for Webb and Zapata counties, announced Wednesday Juan David Ortiz had been indicted on capital murder of multiple persons, as well as other counts.
Ortiz was arrested in September in connection with a 12-day killing spree. Since then, he has been behind bars in lieu of a $2.5 million bond.
A grand jury on Wednesday indicted Ortiz on counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful restraint and evading arrest in addition to the murder count, according to his indictment.
Oritz is accused of fatally shooting Melissa Ramirez, 29, Claudine Ann Luera, 42, Guiselda Alicia Hernandez Cantu, 35, and Nikki Enriquez, 28.
The women, all sex workers, were friends who knew each other in Laredo, according to USA TODAY. Ortiz allegedly picked up the women before driving them out of town and shooting them.
"The scheme in this case, from Ortiz's own words, was to clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable, that no one would miss and that he did not give value to," Alaniz said.
"The evidence that was presented to the grand jury this morning showed that he killed these four innocent individuals in a cold, callous and calculated way," Alaniz continued.
Ortiz's attorney Jose Salvador Tellez II could not immediately be reached for comment. After Ortiz's arrest, he did release a brief statement.
“We have initiated our own factual investigation of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Ortiz's arrest,” the statement said. “Due to the severity of the accusations and sensitivity of this situation, we will not give any further statements out of respect for the deceased and the families of everyone involved.”
Alaniz said several factors were considered when deciding whether to pursue the death penalty: "the horrific nature" of the killings, Ortiz's "complete disregard for human life," his "vigilante mentality" and his "breach of trust" to the community.
A fifth woman, Erika Peña, was able to escape and alerted authorities to Ortiz, breaking open the case.
After going to Ortiz's home with him from San Bernardo, she mentioned Ramirez's slaying and his "attitude started to change," Peña's aunt Marcela Rodriguez told the Caller-Times in September.
Peña got him to take her to a gas station, where she again brought up Ramirez. Ortiz pulled out a gun and grabbed Peña, who managed to escape and flag down a state trooper, according to an affidavit.