A man accused of killing his boyfriend in 2017 was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter this week, according to court officials, while being acquitted on the single murder count that had been previously levied against him.
After a handful of days of deliberation, the jury returned with a not guilty verdict for Christian Ortiz on the single count of murder in connection to his boyfriend, Brayan Rodriguez, being found dead inside a closet in a house on the 23600 block of Via Valer, near Valencia Glen Park, on Sept. 24, 2017.
In the closing statements of the case, the prosecution argued that Ortiz had planned to murder Rodriguez, ultimately strangling him in the days leading up to the body being found.
The defense argued that Ortiz and Rodriguez had been seen on the Via Valer house camera entering Ortiz’s Valencia home holding hands and that the man’s death had been an accident as a result of erotic asphyxiation.
Ultimately, it seems the jury sided with the explanation provided by Ortiz’s lawyer, and settled on a lesser charge. Ortiz is scheduled to return to court on June 29 for sentencing.
A number of search parties were dispatched on the weekend of Rodriguez’s disappearance, some of which were attended by Ortiz himself and he was seen talking with a handful of members of the media.
The parties scoured the surrounding area and Santa Clara riverbed in search of Rodriguez. However, his body was ultimately found a few days later.
Ortiz was arrested three days later on suspicion of killing Rodriguez. His trial has been a long process, with a number of delays and postponements.
In October 2018, after Ortiz’s preliminary hearing was postponed four times, a judge ruled that Ortiz should stand trial.