Jan. 11 (UPI) — A Texas Border Patrol agent accused of killing four women and assaulting another pleaded not guilty to the crimes Thursday.
Juan David Ortiz pleaded not guilty to one charge of capital murder along with charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful restraint and evading arrest. He appeared in the 406th District Court in Laredo, Texas for the arraignment.
The grand jury also warranted the death penalty in the case for the deaths of Melissa Ramirez, Griselda Cantu, Claudine Luera, and Humberto “Janelle” Ortiz.
After Ortiz entered his plea, Judge Oscar J. Hale Jr. set an initial pre-trial hearing for April 25 and a second pre-trial hearing for Oct. 3.
A mother of one of the victims shouted at Ortiz as he was being escorted out of the courtroom and a bailiff then called for order in the court.
Ortiz was indicted on Dec. 5 for the killings and the assault, which took place in September.
He worked as an agent for Laredo Border Patrol for 10 years and was arrested after a woman he allegedly kidnapped escaped from his pickup truck and sought help from authorities.
Prosecutors described Ortiz as a self-proclaimed vigilante who “preyed on the weak, the sick and the vulnerable,” as all of his victims were drug users or involved in sex work.