Calif. deputy's killer gets death sentence


By Peter Y. Hong
Los Angeles Times

NORWALK, Calif. — A Norwalk jury on Tuesday ordered execution for a gang member convicted of murdering a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy in June 2005.

Deputy Luis Gerardo "Jerry" Ortiz, 35, was shot outside a Hawaiian Gardens apartment building while investigating Jose Luis Orozco in connection with another shooting. Orozco, 29, was found guilty by the same jury last month of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of murder of a police officer and possession of a firearm by a felon.

"This is the kind of person and the kind of crime that the death penalty was made for," said Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.

Sheriff's Deputy Timothy Brennan, who had been Ortiz's partner for a year, called the verdict bittersweet. He explained, "You feel good, but it's never going to bring Jerry back to his family and friends."

Orozco is to be formally sentenced May 3 by Judge Philip H. Hickock.

Stanley Perlo, one of Orozco's lawyers, said his client grew up "in a gang-infested area. For all intents and purposes, the gang became his family." Perlo said Orozco was consumed by gang life in much the same way one is addicted to drugs, affecting his judgment.

A 15-year department veteran, Ortiz had hoped to become a detective.

He had married two weeks before the shooting, and had won a department medal of honor for fatally shooting a suspected carjacker who had pulled a gun on him and his partner.

The jury reached its verdict in less than a day. Jurors on Monday asked to review a video recording of Orozco boasting about the shooting to other jail inmates two weeks after Ortiz's death.

The recording, which was presented during the trial, showed Orozco talking about his appearance on the "America's Most Wanted" television show.

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