Mistrial declared in 1997 homicide case - Albuquerque Journal

Mistrial declared in 1997 homicide case

David Ortega (MDC)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Twenty-five years ago, police found Edd Thompson, 48, strangled to death in an East Central motel room.

On Monday, a District Court judge declared a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict in the case against the man accused of killing him.

David Ortega, 48, was tried on a charge of first-degree murder in Thompson’s 1997 death.

Jurors deliberated only half a day Monday before telling Judge Bruce Fox that they had deadlocked.

Prosecutors alleged that two weeks after Thompson’s death, his truck turned up in Colorado containing a pay stub with Ortega’s name and fingerprint on it.

Ortega’s DNA also was found on Thompson’s fingernails, according to testimony offered during Ortega’s weeklong trial in 2nd Judicial District Court.

“We know that Edd Thompson’s keys and truck were not at that motel,” Jolanna Macias, senior trial attorney for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, told jurors during closing arguments Monday.

“We do know that Edd Thompson’s truck was found 15 days later in Aurora, Colorado,” Macias said. “We know that a pay stub belonging to this defendant was found in Thompson’s truck.”

But Ortega’s attorney, Douglas Wilber, told jurors that prosecutors offered no evidence showing that Ortega had entered the motel room or strangled Thompson.

Prosecutors also offered no accounting of Thompson’s actions in the hours and days before he was killed, he said.

“This case is just a bunch of unanswered questions,” Wilber told jurors during closing arguments.

The Central Avenue motel where Thompson was found no longer exists and investigators were unable to find people who worked at the motel at the time.

“Crucially, there are zero witnesses from the actual event, whatever it was,” Wilber said. None of Ortega’s fingerprints were found in the motel room or in Thompson’s truck, he said.

“The state is showing you very, very little of what you could actually call evidence,” he said.

Wilber also cited what he described as a sloppy investigation by the Albuquerque Police Department. Prosecutors weren’t able to produce a report by the violent crimes detective who investigated Thompson’s death, Wilber said. Nor did they produce any recordings of people interviewed at the time, he said.

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