Court denies appeal on Ortiz conviction for jailer assault

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2002

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in Freeborn County district court for Juan Lopez Ortiz, who assaulted a jailer in an attempt to escape from the county jail two years ago.

A jury found Ortiz guilty of first-degree assault and three other counts, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison last August.

Ortiz had warrants in Maryland for sexual offense-related crimes against two 14-year-old girls when he was picked up in Freeborn County in August 2000. In a deposition, Ortiz said he was trying to escape from jail to avoid being sent back to Maryland to face his charges.

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The issue in the appellate review was whether the violence Ortiz employed constitutes first-degree assault.

The state law says the use, or attempted use, of deadly force that causes serious bodily harm is necessary for a first-degree assault charge.

The defense argued that Ortiz did not use any weapon, but only his hands.

The Appeal Court recognized that the injuries Ortiz inflicted to the jailer were sufficient enough to establish probable cause to support the first-degree charge, and affirmed the district court decision.