Man gets life plus 146 years for murder in 2012 case
A 30-year-old man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his first-degree murder conviction in the 2012 stabbing death of a Fruita man.
Julio Ortiz was also sentenced by District Judge Brian Flynn to serve 146 years following his conviction on habitual criminal charges. Ortiz had five prior felony convictions.
Deputy District Attorney Bo Zeerip said his office decided to press for a sentence in the habitual criminal case — despite the mandatory life without parole term — because of the possibility of Ortiz’s first-degree murder conviction being overturned on appeal.
Ortiz was convicted by a Mesa County jury March 15 on charges including first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, second-degree assault, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence in connection with the slaying of 31-year-old Abel Roper.
Prosecutors argued Ortiz became enraged and chased down Roper after a high-speed car crash on Interstate 70 in the pre-dawn hours of March 1, 2012, before inflicting 13 stab wounds on Roper’s chest and leg in a melee at Pioneer Village mobile home park, 3195 F Road.
The slaying was a spillover from a fight over a girl involving Roper and Julio’s brother, Jose, earlier that night at Cruisers, 715 Horizon Drive. The fight escalated with an intoxicated Roper pursuing and colliding with a vehicle occupied by both Ortiz brothers and a third man, Timothy Hanson.