ELYRIA — The 9th District Court of Appeals reversed a plea deal reached by prosecutors and Adam Ortiz in connection with helping dump a friend’s body after the friend had been shot and killed.
As a result, the case will be returned to Lorain County Common Pleas Court.
Ortiz, 24, of Lorain, is serving a nine-year prison sentence after violating the terms of his community control. Ortiz helped dump the body of 17-year-old DeAndre McDowell in a Lexington Avenue field in 2013.
Ortiz originally was sentenced to probation and six months in the Lorain/Medina Community Based Correctional Facility after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors. At the time of his sentencing in 2016, then-county Common Pleas Judge Michele Silva Arredondo warned him that any violation would result in him serving nine years behind bars.
Antonio Robles, the man who shot and killed McDowell, is serving six years in prison for reckless homicide after his attorneys successfully argued the shooting was accidental.
Ortiz was a few days shy of completing his time in the CBCF when he tested positive for marijuana after returning from a pass that briefly had allowed him to return home.
Arredondo’s successor, Judge Chris Cook, ordered Ortiz to spend 30 days in Lorain County Jail for the violation.
At the time, Cook had said that the 30-day jail sentence was enough of a punishment and said he hadn’t been willing to send Ortiz to prison for nine years on a violation that wouldn’t have resulted in jail time had Ortiz been charged and convicted of possession of marijuana.
But in July, Ortiz was arrested on more serious drug charges as part of a two-week long Lorain police investigation. Officers found 11.5 grams of crack cocaine when they searched the Herbert Drive home where Ortiz had been staying. The search also turned up scales, plastic bags and other drug trafficking paraphernalia.
After the new charges, Cook imposed the nine-year sentence.
The court of appeals, however, said it found an error in the way the plea by Ortiz was taken because he did not plead to two of the four counts of obstructing justice in the agreement. Court documents show all four counts received a guilty plea, but the court transcript shows that Arredondo failed to mention two of the counts on the record during the plea hearing.
The court of appeals said by doing so, the lower court had “denied Mr. Ortiz his constitutionally-protected rights and committed a structural error.”
The case has been remanded back to Common Pleas Court, but a hearing date on the matter has not yet been set.
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