REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – A California man whose mother was convicted of trying to kill his dad with a poisoned milkshake two decades ago has been accused of severely beating the father — apparently blaming him for his mother's imprisonment, authorities said.
Jonathan Ortiz, 20, of Redwood City pleaded not guilty Friday in San Mateo County Superior Court to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and inflicting great bodily injury.
Ortiz's mother, Elizabeth Fuentes, has been behind bars since her 2002 conviction on attempted murder charges in the March 1992 poisoning.
Prosecutors said Ortiz attacked his father, Gilbert Ortiz, in June and October and purportedly screamed about what his father had done to Fuentes. During the June attack, he put a knife to his father's chest, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Gilbert Ortiz initially told authorities both times that he had been a victim of robberies. A family member eventually called the detective who investigated the poisoning case to report that Jonathan Ortiz was responsible for the beatings, prosecutors said.
The younger Ortiz, who had been living with his father and other family members since his mother's imprisonment, told authorities the beatings were done in self-defense, prosecutors said.
His attorney, Gerritt Rutgers, declined to discuss a specific defense with the San Mateo Daily Journal but characterized the older Ortiz as an alcoholic who has not been cooperating with the defense on answers about what happened.
Rutgers acknowledged his client's issues involved adjusting from living with his mother during eight years on the run to living with his father.
"He is troubled by the circumstances of why his mother was arrested," Rutgers told the Daily Journal. "He's been given no real answers and been told a lot of things about his mother than don't jibe with what he knows about the woman who taught him love."
Authorities said Fuentes gave Gilbert Ortiz a chocolate milkshake laced with an insecticide called Ortho-7, telling him it was a protein shake that would help him build muscle mass.
Gilbert Ortiz suffered violent convulsions and was unconscious for several days during which his heart stopped and his kidneys failed, authorities said.
As investigators closed in on Fuentes, she fled the country with her then-2-year-old son. She was finally located in 2000 and arrested by Mexican immigration officers in the town of La Barca in Jalisco state.
During her 2002 trial, Fuentes claimed the poisoning was an act of self-defense in an abusive marriage, but prosecutors said she had been jealous and angry about his long work hours.
Fuentes was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 13 years to life in prison. The woman, now 40, was denied parole last year and is eligible again in 2015.
Jonathan Ortiz is being held in the beating case on $200,000 bail. His trial is scheduled for June.
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