No news wires have picked it up yet but they will any minute now. Here is the latest news story put up about 15 minutes ago:
Jurors have reached a verdict in the penalty phase of trial for the gang member convicted of killing a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy in June 2005 in Hawaiian Gardens.
Jose Luis Orozco was convicted March 20 of murdering Deputy Luis Gerardo "Jerry" Ortiz. Jurors were asked to recommend whether Orozco, 29, should be executed or serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The jury’s verdict was expected to be read late Tuesday morning.
Ortiz, a member of the anti-gang detail at the sheriff’s Lakewood station, was checking identifications of people inside units at an apartment building in the 12200 block of East 223rd Street when he was shot in the face from behind an apartment door on June 24, 2005.
The 35-year-old newly married father of two boys had been investigating an earlier attack in which a man was shot in the back while doing yard work at a Hawaiian Gardens home.
Along with the murder conviction, jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer, murder while lying in wait and murder to avoid arrest.
Jurors also convicted Orozco of one count of attempted murder involving the earlier Hawaiian Gardens shooting and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, and found true allegations that Orozco personally discharged a handgun and that he committed the crimes for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
Justice has been served!
A bit about Jerry’s life and what this monster took from us:
There were few dry eyes in Judge Philip Hickok’s courtroom Tuesday as attorneys battled over the fate of convicted cop killer Jose Luis Orozco.[…]Perlo and Orozco’s other attorney, Robin Yanes, put up little defense during the speedy trial, repeatedly referring to their client as the killer in the presence of the jury and presenting no witnesses of their own.
They took a far different approach at the start of the penalty phase of the trial Tuesday, starting the morning with arguments for expert witness testimony in their portion of the penalty trial and carefully questioning almost all the prosecution’s witnesses, including the deputy’s grieving mother.
Rosa Ortiz’s voice quaked with emotion from the start as she was asked to spell her name for the court after taking the oath on the witness stand.
While she recalled her late son’s life, picking him out of baby photos displayed for the jury and talking about his graduation from the Army and, later, the sheriff’s academy, she smiled through many of her tears.
Her son was born in Yuma, Ariz., and the family moved to Cudahy when he was very small for her husband’s job, she testified.
By the time Ortiz was 6 or 7 years old, however, the once family-friendly neighborhood seemed to change. There was more graffiti and more crime, she said, prompting her and her husband to move their family again, this time to El Monte.
Perlo’s questions for the deputy’s mother were brief but pointed. He asked her about the decision to move once they saw signs of gang life creeping into their neighborhood.
Stirling was quick to respond, asking the mother what her husband and she did at that time. Both of them are first-generation Americans, she testified, and both worked long hours at humble jobs to provide for their family.
Her husband managed various warehouse-style retail stores while she worked for more than 25 years in the El Monte School District Food Service Division, preparing and delivering meals for children who attended a special campus for problem students, she said.
She used to wake around 4 or 5 a.m. every day to get ready for work. She recalled how Jerry, then a rookie deputy, would come home from late shifts around 2:30 or 3 a.m. needing to talk.
Most of the time she would wake automatically, she said. Sometimes her son would flip on a light or bang a door to wake her up.
Then the young officer would pour out his heart. His eyes would water as he described having to take children from drug houses and the squalid conditions he saw many babies living in, she said.
He would tell his mom he wanted to bring them home to his family, where they would get all the love and care they deserved, she testified.
After a while, he would relax and become sleepy, she said, finally able to go to bed.
She usually would stay up the rest of the night because she had to get up so early for work, she added. She was happy to do it, she testified, happy to give her son peace of mind.
Since his death, she said, her family has had little peace.
Her husband, already somewhat ill, lost the will to eat, take his medications or go to work.
"He want to die, he want to go with his mijo," she said.
And she too longs for her death in order to see their son, she added.
"I wish I could go now, because life is so hard," she said as she began to sob.
"He take my heart, right here," she said, gesturing at her chest.
Ortiz’s eldest son, 17-year-old Jeremy Ortiz, talked about how close he was to his father and his younger stepbrother, 7-year-old Jacob Ortiz.
The high school senior, who is preparing for college in the fall, said he talked to his dad every day, usually before he went to bed at night if he wasn’t at his father’s house. The teen recalled memorable family trips and occasions – like the time he got to meet Oscar de la Hoya and Lennox Lewis with his dad, a champion boxer for the sheriff’s department police olympics team.
But the best times, he said, came when his father would pick him up from school or some other mundane place and they would get on the clogged Pomona (60) Freeway for the long ride to his dad’s Diamond Bar home. The traffic jams gave the father and son a lot of time to bond, Jeremy Ortiz said.
"We would always get to talk about everything then, anything really," the teen said.[…]Prosecutors rounded out the testimony with several members of law enforcement, including the deputy’s best friend and former Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Gerlach.
Ortiz, Gerlach said, was the best kind of cop because he believed he made a difference and he was dedicated to that purpose. He talked about how Ortiz developed a life-long friendship with a former jail inmate whom Ortiz mentored.
FBI Agent Sally Brown testified that Ortiz proved crucial in breaking a tough corruption case against Long Beach Police Officer Julio Alcazar, who is serving an 11-year sentence in federal prison.
Ortiz knew an officer with information needed in the 1999 case, the federal agent said. He was able to get that officer to come forward at a time when no one was talking to the FBI or the Long Beach Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigators, she said.
At the end of the long day of testimony, prosecutors returned to the deputy’s family. This time, the deputy’s young widow – Chela Ortiz – was asked to take the stand.
The two had grown up in El Monte, going to rival high schools. They didn’t date until much later, however, when they met again at a mutual friend’s barbecue in 2003, she said.
Their first date came the morning after the barbecue, after Ortiz called and invited her to go to church with him.
Jerry went to church every Sunday, she said, where he served as an usher. It was one of the things she loved best about him, along with his dedication to his children and the rest of his family, she said. They dated for about two years when he proposed to her on Feb. 15, 2005, she said. They married about three months later.
The young couple had been married not quite three weeks when Ortiz was killed, she testified, dashing their dreams of having several children and growing old together.
Staggering grief left her unable to function for about a year, she said.
The devastating impact of her husband’s murder can still be felt, she said, noting that she was offered her dream job as a public relations representative for the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this year, but had to turn the position down because of her obligations in the trial.
The prosecutor then asked the widow about a comment her sister made during her husband’s funeral.
In the eulogy, Chela Ortiz’s sister told a packed audience at the Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral that Chela swore she wouldn’t have changed a thing even if she had known her young husband was going to die so early. That sentiment remains, she insisted Tuesday.
"I wouldn’t trade one moment," Chela Ortiz told the jury, tears sliding down her face.