EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A Webb County assistant district attorney has quit in the middle of a high-profile capital murder case involving a former Border Patrol agent, the San Antonio Express-News reported Thursday.
Joshua “Josh” Davila was the second-chair prosecutor in the trial against Juan David Ortiz, a former Border Patrol supervisor accused of killing four women in Laredo in 2018.
The trial began Monday in San Antonio after a judge granted a change of venue from Laredo, Texas.
On Wednesday, Davila questioned witnesses but was gone but Thursday.
The Express-News reported that Davila blasted the Webb County District Attorney’s Office on social media, writing, “I have officially left the Webb County District Attorney’s office. That is the most unprofessional and toxic work place I’ve ever had to deal with. I do not recommend it. I’m sorry to anyone I let down,”
The newspaper reported that a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office confirmed Davila’s departure.
Ortiz, 39, a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol, is charged with four counts of murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint.
He’s accused of killing 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez; 42-year-old Claudine Luera; 28-year-old Humberto “Janelle” Ortiz; and Guiselda Cantu. Prosecutors have described the alleged victims as sex workers.
On Monday, a woman who alleged that Ortiz threatened to kill her took the stand.
According to an affidavit, Erika Pena alleged that on Sept. 14, 2018, Ortiz “pointed a firearm” at her but she said she managed to escape before flagging down a Texas state trooper.
Pena testified that she had been involved in prostitution and had taken drugs, including heroin, in front of Ortiz. She said the two were in his truck when he “pulled a gun on me.”
Pena said Ortiz threatened her after she brought up the recent death of the sex workers and that one of them was her best friend.
Pena said she was able to escape and encountered a trooper who was pumping gas.
According to the arrest affidavit, Ortiz verbally confessed to killing four women between Sept. 3-15, 2018.
He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.