Woman who admitted role in officer's death sentenced
Woman's actions played a role in death
Last Updated: 54 days ago
SAN DIEGO - A woman who holed up in a bedroom in a southeast San Diego apartment where an officer was killed as police were forcing their way inside was sentenced Thursday to 25 years and four months in prison.
Melissa Ortiz, 24, pleaded guilty last month to voluntary manslaughter in connection with the Oct. 27, 2010, shooting death of Officer Christopher Wilson, a 17-year veteran.
She admitted turning off a light so officers entering the bedroom were completely "back-lit" and exposed, giving her friends an advantage against the officers standing in a lighted hallway.
Two other defendants were sentenced previously.
Patrick Luangrath, 22, who failed to obey orders to come out of the apartment, also pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 years and four months in prison.
Alex Charfauros, 29, was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 85 years to life plus 11 years.
Prosecutor Michael Runyon said at Charfauros' trial that if he had told the truth about armed people holed up in his apartment, Wilson may not have been killed the night county probation officers and U.S. marshals went there.
Probation officers were checking on Charfauros, and the marshals were looking for Holim Lee, who had outstanding warrants for assault and a probation violation.
Officers forced their way into the apartment, and Charfauros came crawling out of the east bedroom.
Officers asked Charfauros if there were any guns, drugs or anyone else holed up inside, but the defendant was uncooperative, Runyon said.
A number of San Diego police officers were called to assist, including Wilson, who was shot in the head and died a short time later.
Lee and his girlfriend, Lucky Xayasene, were found dead in the bedroom from self-inflicted gunshots wounds. Prosecutors said Lee fired the shot that killed Wilson.
Ortiz also pleaded guilty to a violent robbery at a South Bay Apple store. The manager of that store spoke Thursday about how the incident has changed his life.
The man said he still has flashbacks and traumatic memories from the robbery, which took place nearly six months after Wilson's death.
“You will have 25 years to think about your bad decisions -- your decisions, which have affected me, my family and my employees ... to the family of Officer Wilson and to all the families of all of the accomplices, dead or alive," he said.
Outside the courtroom the Runyon spoke of the consequences of being involved in these types of situation.
“It’s good for all of us to remember that criminal liability can attach not just for people who pull the triggers or the direct perpetrators, but anybody who does anything to assist them,” Runyon told 10News.
The attorney for Ortiz said he believes she will come out of prison a changed woman.
“She’s accepted responsibility for what she did,” said Wilfrid Rumble. “I hope we can all learn from it.”
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