Tuesday, February 10, 2009


January 29, 2009

..."Stay strong," he said, although he had no friends or relatives in the death chamber....

Last Meal: Ortiz had no final meal request.

The skinny: Ortiz, 46, a high-ranking prison gang member, was executed for injecting a fatal dose of heroin into a fellow inmate 11 years ago.

More skinny: The victim died of a heroin overdose. The concentration of morphine in his blood was three times higher than the average. A pathologist testified that the absence of track marks meant that the victim was not a heroin addict.

At trial, two witnesses testified that the heroin overdose was involuntary, forced upon the man by Ortiz because Ortiz believed that the victim had revealed Ortiz's role in some bank robberies.

This section of the jail was known as the "Texas Syndicate tank" because it was set aside specifically to contain those associated with the Texas Syndicate. Ortiz was the "tank boss," meaning he exercised de facto authority over the other inmates in the tank.

At trial, defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to show jurors the victim had a death wish and was considering suicide.

Priors: Ortiz's violent history included an attack on an inmate with a homemade spear. He had a long record that included robbery, aggravated robbery, burglary and possessing deadly weapons in prison. Records show he was known as "Serrucho," Spanish for "Handsaw."

Evidence also showed Ortiz was arrested in 1990 but never tried for the execution-style slayings of two Houston-area parolees whose bodies were found in the desert.

Last words and such: Ortiz expressed love for his family and thanked them for their support. "Stay strong," he said, although he had no friends or relatives in the death chamber. "I'm at peace. I love you and my kids. See you."

Nine minutes later he was pronounced dead.

Factoids: Ortiz was the...

7th murderer executed in U.S. in 2009
1143rd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
5th murderer executed in Texas in 2009
428th murderer executed in Texas since 1976