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Accused mom hit with more charges; Intimidation, more child assault counts.

Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER - A Worcester woman arraigned Monday in Central District Court on a charge of assaulting and seriously injuring her 2-year-old son was back before the same judge yesterday on an intimidation of a witness allegation and additional child assault charges.

Frances Ortiz, 29, of 69 Harrison St., Apt. 2, was ordered held without bail by Judge Vito A. Virzi after the judge revoked her release on personal recognizance on a charge of assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury. Judge Virzi had set $5,000 cash bail on that charge Monday, but Superior Court Judge C.J. Moriarty released Ms. Ortiz on her own recognizance after a bail hearing later in the day.

The charge was lodged after Ms. Ortiz's 2-year-old son, one of three siblings since placed in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families, was hospitalized Aug. 13 with injuries that police said included fractures of his skull and the orbital bone of his left eye.

Prosecutors now contend that Ms. Ortiz intimidated a witness in the case shortly after her release from custody Monday. She was arraigned yesterday on that charge, as well as on additional charges resulting from the ongoing investigation into the alleged abuse of her son.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph J. Reilly III told Judge Virzi yesterday morning that Ms. Ortiz and her mother went to the home of an "important" witness in the abuse case "in very short order" after her release from custody Monday. The prosecutor said Ms. Ortiz informed the witness she was aware she had "ratted the defendant out" and warned the woman she had "better watch her back."

Lawyer Tom G. Vukmirovits told the judge Ms. Ortiz "flat out denies she made any threatening remarks" to the witness. Mr. Vukmirovits said Ms. Ortiz related to him that the woman had removed all of Ms. Ortiz's personal belongings from her home and that Ms. Ortiz was simply trying to recover the property.

Judge Virzi revoked Ms. Ortiz's release on recognizance on the assault and battery on a child causing substantial injury charge at the request of Mr. Reilly. The charge relates to an allegation that Ms. Ortiz "violently and forcibly" pushed the 2-year-old to the floor Aug. 12, causing him to strike his head against a wall and toilet, according to court records.

Ms. Ortiz was also arraigned yesterday on new charges of assault and battery on a child with injury, four counts; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (frozen package of hot dogs); and threatening to commit a crime (murder), offenses alleged to have occurred Aug. 11 and Aug. 12. The 2-year-old boy is the named victim in all of the charges, which Mr. Reilly said were brought as a result of the ongoing police investigation.

The charges involve allegations that Ms. Ortiz violently slapped the boy across the face, grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the floor, struck him in the eye and face with a pack of frozen hot dogs, slammed his head against a wall, and threatened to kill him if her other two children were taken from her.

Judge Virzi set a total of $1,000 cash bail on the new charges and continued Ms. Ortiz's case to Sept. 16.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 22, 2008
Words:549
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