The man acquitted Monday of murder and manslaughter in the death of a Biddeford man was charged Wednesday in federal court with being a felon in possession of a firearm — the gun that killed the victim.
A York County jury found that Timothy Ortiz, 24, formerly of New York City and Westbrook, acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Jonathan Methot, 30, nearly two years ago in Biddeford in a dispute over an alleged drug debt.
Ortiz’s defense attorney Luke Rioux of Portland on Monday called the incident “tragic.” He maintained that Ortiz was choked before he fired three shots. The fatal one hit Methot in the face on Sept. 26, 2016.
Rioux said Monday that Ortiz was not released from York County Jail after the verdict because he was still serving a sentence for a probation violation, according to the Associated Press.
The defense attorney said Wednesday that the U.S. Attorney’s Office “has been sitting on this case for close to two years.”
“The timing today raises the suspicion that they are acting now, not by some sudden need to enforce federal law, but in response to Monday’s murder acquittal,” said Rioux, who also is representing Ortiz on the gun charge.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case. It is the practice of federal prosecutors not to comment on pending cases.
Ortiz made his first appearance Wednesday afternoon on the federal charge in U.S. District Court in Portland.
He was not asked to enter a plea because he has not yet been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Ortiz was forbidden from possessing a firearm due to his conviction Feb. 5, 2016, in Cumberland County court on charges of aggravated sex trafficking and unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs. Under Maine law, both charges are felonies.
The federal affidavit said that several witnesses saw Ortiz in the days leading up to the shooting with a silver .357 revolver. The gun was found hidden above a ceiling tile in the bathroom of the Westbrook apartment to which Ortiz fled following the shooting, according to the affidavit.
Ortiz came to the attention of federal law enforcement in the fall of 2015 when investigators began looking into a possible sex and drug trafficking ring in Biddeford, according to the affidavit.
If convicted on the federal charge, Ortiz faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
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