Teen assailant ready to discuss plea agreement
WORTHINGTON -- Sixteen-year-old Brandon Ortiz, accused of stabbing a 24-year-old Worthington man during an altercation in August, is in the process of looking into a plea agreement with the state, according to his attorney, Dan Birkholz.
The criminal complaint states Ortiz allegedly stabbed the victim in the abdomen and chest after an altercation at a party.
He admitted later to authorities he had stabbed the man several times, the complaint states, and led police to a row of bushes near the location of Worthington's former swimming pool to recover the blood-stained knife he used.
Birkholz asked that his motion to have Ortiz certified as an adult be continued for now, stating if the state and his client could reach a resolution, it would save the expense of the "perhaps unnecessary" hearings. Birkholz does, however, want the teen to have a psychological assessment.
"He'll have a chemical use assessment done before he leaves Worthington," Birkholz stated.
Nobles County Assistant Attorney Kathy Kusz told Judge George Harrelson she had no objection to continuing the certification process as long as Ortiz stayed in custody at the Prairie Lakes Detention Center in Willmar.
Harrelson addressed the victim of the stabbing, stating he had reviewed the potential plea agreement and found it to be a reasonable one.
"I don't feel it's just a slap on the wrist," he told the man, who was sitting in the gallery.
The letter sent from the victim to the judge's office indicates the state had discussed the possibility of a plea for Ortiz with the victim.
"You express upset or concern about the agreement," the judge stated. "This involved serious charges, and it's clear from your letter how this affected your life."
The proposed plea would keep Ortiz on probation until his 21st birthday, as opposed to his 19th birthday like most juvenile adjudications.
"This would be after he completed a period of time in the juvenile system and out-of-home placement," Harrelson said.
Once the detention facility has the matter of payment for the psychological testing sorted out, it could be accomplished within a matter of weeks, the judge was told.
Harrelson passed an order stating the county would pay for the testing if Ortiz's parents could not do so with their health insurance.