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Third suspect arraigned in killing; Defendant brought from Puerto Rico.

Byline: Paula J. Owen

FITCHBURG - Judge Elliot L. Zide ordered the third suspect charged with murder in the August killing of a California man held on $500,000 cash bail after his arraignment yesterday in Fitchburg District Court.

Edward J. Ortiz, 19, of Dorado, Puerto Rico, was extradited from there and arrived in Massachusetts Thursday night for the hearing.

Judge Zide allowed him to stand in the hall outside the courtroom out of view. Assistant District Attorney Cara L. Krysil, from the Worcester District Attorney's Office, argued against bail, saying Mr. Ortiz fled to Puerto Rico from Fitchburg after police questioned him.

During police interviews in Puerto Rico, Ms. Krysil said, Mr. Ortiz admitted to his involvement in the murder.

However, Mr. Ortiz's attorney, Dana A. Sargent of New Bedford, said his client was returning home to his parents, not fleeing from the investigation, and was merely a witness to the murder - not a participant.

Earlier this month, a father and son were ordered held on $500,000 bail each after their arraignment on murder charges in the August killing. Reinaldo Andino-Colon, 53, and his son, Reinaldo Andino-Benitez, 23, both of 174 Meadowbrook Lane, are charged with murder in the beating and strangulation death of 32-year-old Alex Ortiz-Rivera.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. held a news conference after the pair's arraignment. He said that at one point before his death, the victim had in his possession nine pounds of marijuana and $8,000 in cash. Mr. Early said the father and son enlisted Mr. Ortiz to help them kill the man. The victim was beaten and his larynx was punctured and crushed.

Mr. Early said that during the investigation police learned Mr. Ortiz-Rivera had traveled to Fitchburg from California and had been staying with Mr. Andino-Colon and Mr. Andino-Benitez at their Meadowbrook Lane home. During that time, he received shipments of marijuana.

During the arraignment, Ms. Krysil said Mr. Ortiz-Rivera was killed at the Meadowbrook Lane address and then the men took his body by pickup truck and dumped it in a sand pit near the airport. Mr. Andino-Colon and Mr. Andino-Benitez are being held pending a pretrial hearing April 25.

Yesterday Mr. Sargent requested authorities hold Mr. Ortiz in a different jail than his co-defendants. Mr. Ortiz is only 19, he said, and has no prior criminal record.

"We obviously wouldn't want the co-defendants in this case in the same facility," said Mr. Sargent in the lobby after the arraignment. "He is a 19-year-old kid who has never been in jail before. He is nervous in jail for good reason. Things could happen and someone could get hurt."

The judge honored the request but did not specify where Mr. Ortiz would be held.

His pretrial hearing is scheduled for May 10.

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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 24, 2012
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