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A Texas prosecutor has quit just days into the capital murder trial for a former Texas border patrol agent who’s accused of killing four sex workers.
Joshua Davila, a Webb County assistant district attorney, dropped out in the middle of the case involving Juan David Ortiz, who’s accused of fatally shooting four women and injuring a fifth, leaving the bodies on roads around Laredo, Texas, after the September 2018 killing spree.
“I have officially left the Webb County District Attorney’s Office,” Davila wrote in a Facebook post, according to ABC-affiliated station KSAT. “That is the most unprofessional and toxic workplace I’ve ever had to deal with. I do not recommend it. I’m sorry to anyone I let down.”
The Webb County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment when reached by Oxygen.com on Friday.
The DA’s office confirmed to Law&Crime that Davila resigned, but didn’t comment on him slamming the office, only stating, “This does not affect the prosecution of this case.”
The San Antonio-based trial for Ortiz, 39, began on Monday. He’s charged with four counts of murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint.
Ortiz is accused of killing Guiselda Alicia Hernandez, Claudine Anne Luera, Melissa Ramirez and Janelle Ortiz (who also went by Nikki Enriquez), as well as attempting to abduct Erika Peña, who was able to escape, according to Law&Crime.
Ortiz, who worked for Border Patrol for almost a decade and is from Laredo, allegedly told investigators that he wanted to “eradicate all the prostitutes.”
Peña — the victim who Ortiz is accused of assaulting — took the stand on Monday. She testified that she counted Ortiz as a friend and had known him for around five months, according to KENS, adding that heroin addiction led her to prostitution. She called Ortiz a client.
Charging documents seen by Oxygen.com state that Ortiz “began to act weird” when Ramirez, whom Peña knew, was brought up while Peña was at his home on Sept. 14, 2018. Ramirez had been found dead 10 days earlier.
“I just felt scared and nauseous,” Peña said in court Monday, adding that she felt sick and had to go outside Ortiz’s home that September day. “I just got this feeling that maybe he was the one that had been murdering.”
Peña also said Monday that she’d known at that point that three bodies had been found, adding that “all the girls were watching their backs,” according to KENS, a CBS affiliate in San Antonio.
She testified that Ortiz drove her to a gas station after she got sick, then pulled out a gun when Ramirez came up again. Peña added that Ortiz tore off her shirt while trying to stop her from getting out of his truck.
Peña additionally testified that she was able to run away and get the attention of Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Francisco Hernandez at the gas station.
Hernandez, who also testified Monday, showed body camera video of Peña asking for help, adding that she was hyperventilating, according to KSAT.
Peña admitted in court to being on drugs during the attack, and Ortiz’s attorney asked her about her addiction and alleged discrepancies in her story about what part of her body Ortiz pointed the gun at, according to KSAT.
Ortiz’s defense attorney has also claimed his client was coerced into a false confession, according to KENS.
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