Waco felon pleads guilty to murder after paralyzed shooting victim dies 14 years later

Ricky Ortegon Jr. will get credit for time served
Judge Thomas West sentenced Ricky Ortegon Jr. to 15 years in prison – a sentence that will...
Judge Thomas West sentenced Ricky Ortegon Jr. to 15 years in prison – a sentence that will amount to time served – in the Feb. 24, 2017, death of Carlos Martinez.(KWTX GRAPHIC)
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 3:07 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Waco felon who served 15 years in prison in a 2003 shooting that left another man paralyzed pleaded guilty to murder Monday in the same incident after the shooting victim died 14 years later.

Judge Thomas West of Waco’s 19th State District Court sentenced Ricky Ortegon Jr., 40, to 15 years in prison – a sentence that will amount to time served – in the Feb. 24, 2017, death of Carlos Martinez.

Ortegon had served almost 15 years and was scheduled to be released from prison for shooting Martinez when Martinez, who was paralyzed in the incident and who suffered a number of other health issues, died in February 2017 in Houston.

McLennan County prosecutors chose to charge Ortegon with murder despite the fact that he had served his sentence for attempted murder because the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Martinez died from “complications from gunshot wounds” he suffered about 14 years before.

Court records show Ortegon, who also has a felony conviction for evading arrest in a vehicle, pleaded guilty to attempted murder in November 2003 in the April 2003 shooting incident that left Martinez badly wounded and paralyzed.

Ortegon’s attorney, Jason P. Darling, said he and Ortegon reached a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office that basically gave Ortegon credit for the time he served before Martinez’s death. That will allow him to be released from custody as soon as his paperwork is processed locally and by state prison officials, Darling said.

“Ricky had already paid his debt to society when he did 15 years for the same act,” Darling said. “He has been a model citizen when he was released on bond three years ago. He is ready to get this case behind him so he can return to work and his family.”

McLennan County District Attorney Josh Tetens said his office reviewed the case and considered the 15 years Ortegon served, his conduct since being released, the facts of the original case, and determined a plea offer of 15 years was appropriate.

“He will get credit for those 15 years he already spent in prison, and is now in jail awaiting processing by TDCJ on the newest murder judgment,” Tetens said.

According to records filed in the case, Martinez, who was 20 at the time, told police a man later identified as Ortegon rang the doorbell at his aunt’s house in the 2200 block of Lee Street about 3:30 a.m. Martinez answered the door, and the man said he wanted to talk to Martinez’s cousin.

Martinez’s cousin was asleep and refused to come to the door, so Martinez returned to the door and told Ortegon his cousin was sleeping. Ortegon insisted on speaking with his cousin, so Martinez said he returned to his cousin’s room. Again, his cousin said he did not want to talk to anyone, so Martinez went back and reported that to Ortegon, according to Martinez’s statement to police.

Ortegon asked, “Well, who are you?” Martinez said he was the man’s cousin, and Ortegon asked him if he and his cousin are “close.”

“I said, ‘I’m his cousin!’ " Martinez wrote in the report. Ortegon then fired five or six shots, striking Martinez multiple times in the abdomen and chest, with a .40-caliber bullet lodging near his spine, according to records.

Police said at the time that Ortegon thought Martinez’s cousin dated Ortegon’s girlfriend while Ortegon was in prison the first time. It was unclear why he shot Martinez, police said.