ELYRIA — Adam Ortiz was re-sentenced to the same nine-year sentence he had received before the 9th District Court of Appeals vacated his initial sentence and returned the case back to Lorain County Common Pleas Court.
However, the family of the victim in the case isn’t sure justice was served for 17-year-old DeAndre McDowell.
Earlier this month, the appeals court reversed a plea deal reached by prosecutors and Ortiz in connection with helping dump McDowell’s body after he’d been shot and killed.
Ortiz, 24, of Lorain, is serving a nine-year prison sentence after violating the terms of his community control.
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 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.
After testing positive for marijuana and then being arrested on more serious drug trafficking charges, Ortiz was sentenced to nine years in prison by Arredondo’s successor, Judge Chris Cook.
The court of appeals, though, 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.
On Thursday, Ortiz appeared before Cook to be resentenced. Prior to sentencing, prosecutors dismissed the two counts of obstructing justice the appeals court said Ortiz never pleaded guilty to.
After that, Ortiz’s defense attorney, Kenneth Ortner, made a motion for Ortiz to vacate his plea, saying his client “didn’t voluntarily and intelligently enter into the plea, and he would like a chance to renegotiate the plea agreement.”
Cook denied the motion, saying he understood Ortiz’s concerns seeing that he has received a nine-year sentence when the man who pulled the trigger got a six-year sentence.
“Still, it’s very clear to this court that Mr. Ortiz entered into substantial and thoughtful negotiations with the state of Ohio,” Cook said. “… Mr. Ortiz received a community control sanction, where the shooter was sentenced to prison. Mr. Ortiz had an opportunity to remain a free man. He had an opportunity to never see the inside of a prison if he had conducted himself properly.”
Cook also said the case has been problematic.
“I have been troubled by this case from the moment it got dumped on my lap. I’m not sure I would have handled this case the same way it was handled, had I had the opportunity to deal with it when it was being initially negotiated,” cook said. “I understand the family of Mr. McDowell isn’t real thrilled with everything and may have liked to have had this case reviewed from their perspective. Perhaps the state feels the same way. Obviously, Mr. Ortiz does.”
But Cook said he wasn’t part of the negotiations and didn’t know what give and take had occurred.
“All I know is, everybody reached an agreement, and that agreement for months and months and months was in place,” he said. “Everybody was prepared to live with that agreement, whether it was a good agreement, a terrible agreement or an agreement somewhere in the middle.”
Cook then sentenced Ortiz to nine years in prison.
Jeremy McDowell, the father of DeAndre McDowell, said the family wasn’t satisfied with the sentencing, saying that he felt Ortiz’s interference with the investigation into the shooting death was what caused the murder count against Robles to eventually be dismissed. He also said the family took offense at the characterization made over the years that Ortiz and Robles were friends with DeAndre. Jeremy McDowell said they knew of each other but were not friends.
DeAndre McDowell’s family was in the courtroom once again to see Ortiz resentenced. Jeremy McDowell said it was difficult returning to the Justice Center.
“Every time I walk into that courtroom, I can’t even describe the emotions. It’s not an anger; it’s not a sadness,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, but it is the eeriest feeling that I’ve ever felt in my life to walk into that courtroom time and time again, just hoping for some justice for my son.”
Every time he leaves the courthouse, Jeremy McDowell said he walks away asking himself if DeAndre got any justice.
Does he think his son got justice this time?
“I don’t. I don’t, because to tell you the truth, they should all have been doing way more time than nine years,” Jeremy McDowell said. Some people will say, ‘Well, you know that’s typical of a parent because they’re hurting from never having their child back.’ Yes, that’s part of it, but also I know that they did more than what they were convicted for, and they all played a part in throwing the police off in their investigation.”
- Judge denies Antonio Robles judicial release
- Appeals court reverses plea deal
- Man to serve full sentence in body dumping
- Adam Ortiz Jr. indicted on drug-trafficking charge
- Judge: $1M bond stays for man facing probation violation, other charges
- Man on probation for moving body now faces drug trafficking charges
- Lorain man accused in murder-for-hire plot
- Ortiz sentenced for role in moving murder victim's body
- Prosecutors ask for more punishment for probation violation
- Ortiz pleads guilty, avoids prison time in McDowell case
- Witness says Robles was playing with gun before fatal shooting
- Intent at issue as Robles' murder trial opens
- Lawyers give closing arguments in Robles trial; judge to announce verdict today
- Man acquitted of murder; found guilty of reckless homicide
- Man seeks dismissal of charges after his cooperation; investigators say he violated deal