The trials for two local men charged in crimes alleged to have taken place nearly three years ago are both due back in court next month.
All jury trials are currently on hold due to a court order prompted by COVID-19, which is stalling progress on thousands of cases.
Christian Ortiz, 24, of Valencia, was arrested Sept. 25, 2017, in connection with the murder of Brayan Rodriguez. The two were in a relationship at the time of the murder, according to officials.
Ortiz was 21 at the time of the alleged murder, and has been awaiting trial since.
Rodriguez’s body was found inside a closet in a house on the 23600 block of Via Valer, near Valencia Glen Park, the day before.
Rodriguez, who was 20 years old at the time of his death, was reported missing on Sept. 22, 2017, resulting in a number of searches to find him throughout the weekend.
In October 2018, after Ortiz’s preliminary hearing was postponed four times, a judge ruled that Ortiz should stand trial for the murder.
Ortiz’ case was continued to Oct. 14 for another pretrial hearing, according to Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Ortiz remains in custody in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility with bail set at $2 million.
Attempted murder suspect
Monolito Guerra, 32, of Newhall, stands accused of shooting a sheriff’s deputy in the neck on the 21300 block of Bottletree Lane in Newhall in December 2017.
Guerra’s preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 9, according to Santiago. At a preliminary hearing, the evidence is presented to a judge who then decides whether there’s enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Guerra had been on parole in Newhall for a little over a month for assault and evading arrest convictions, a Homicide Bureau lieutenant said Thursday.
He was arrested on Oct. 15, 2014, and ultimately sentenced to state prison on Feb. 2, 2016, to terms of four years, five years and eight months, to be served concurrently, for a pair of felony evading arrest and assault with a deadly weapon convictions, respectively, according to Sheriff’s Department officials.
Guerra served less than two years before he received parole on Oct. 19, 2017. He returned to Santa Clarita, and not long after, he was shot multiple times in a shootout with Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies, after allegedly shooting at a deputy on Bottletree Lane, according to Lt. Joe Mendoza, of the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau, who’s part of the investigation for Guerra’s most recent allegations. (The Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau investigators handle all investigations into officer-involved shootings, regardless of whether it’s a fatal shooting, as a matter of procedure.)
The deputy injured in that shooting has made a full recovery and continues to serve as a deputy for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
Guerra is being held in lieu of more than $5.5 million bail.