By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (February 7, 2017) – In what could be the quickest verdict on record, it took a jury mere minutes to find a man guilty on Tuesday. Sentencing deliberations are expected to begin at 1 p.m. in the 266th Judicial District Court.
Nolberto Ortega, 56, was convicted in about 10 minutes of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, a third-degree felony.
Ortega brandished a handgun in close proximity of Stephenville High School and Gilbert Intermediate in March of last year. The incident led school officials to lock down campuses and police officers to arm themselves with AR-15 assault rifles before the situation was diffused.
The crime was phoned into police dispatch by a mother who was homeschooling her children in a neighboring home when she heard a loud “pop” and saw the defendant with the handgun.
Ortega, who had previously been convicted on multiple felonies and law prohibited from possessing a firearm, faces 25 years to life in prison due to enhancements to the possession charge.
His defense hinged on the idea that Ortega did not know the firearm, from which the entire firing mechanism had been removed, was off limits.
Ortega was represented by court-appointed attorney Angie Hatley who also said her client was under duress, feeling his life was in danger.
The defendant claimed a man who was at his home at the time of the incident had been sent by the Texas Syndicate, a gang. Ortega claimed his life was being threatened for working as a police informant.
But, the state asserted that the gang member and Ortega had been friends for some time and the defendant was comfortable enough in his presence to invite him into his home and automobile with his two-year-old daughter.
Prior to the recess, Ortega said he planned to testify on his own behalf during the sentencing hearing and was told by District Judge Jason Cashon that he has the constitutional decline testifying.
“I have already been found guilty, what more harm can I do?” Ortega asked.