TACOMA, WA – This week Juan Ortiz, 25, was sentenced to 31 years in prison for the 2010 murder of Juan Zuniga. Ortiz was charged in 2010 but avoided capture until last year when he was arrested in Mexico and extradited to Washington.
In February, Ortiz pleaded guilty to murder in the first degree and assault in the second degree.
“Gang violence is dramatically down in Pierce County because we are convicting and sending away the most violent offenders,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
At sentencing, Chief Criminal Deputy Jared Ausserer represented the State.
“This was a premediated execution,” Ausserer said in court. The court agreed and imposed the sentence recommended by Ausserer.
On May 12, 2010, Tacoma Police responded to a residence on North Visscher Street regarding a shooting. When they arrived, police found two men had been shot. One of the men, identified as Juan Zuniga, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other man’s injuries were not life threatening.
According to a witness, Zuniga lived at the residence. Shortly before midnight Zuniga announced that “Goofy”, later identified as Naitaalii Toleafoa, and “Weasel”, the alias used by Ortiz, were coming to the residence to pay Zuniga money owed.
The witness saw Toleafoa and Ortiz arrive at the residence on foot. They were allowed inside and went into the attached garage with Zuniga. The witness reported that within seconds the witness heard four or five shots from inside the garage. The witness saw Toleafoa run for the front door and run away. The witness also saw Ortiz walking behind Toleafoa carrying a handgun. The witness entered the garage and saw Zuniga on the ground dead.
Detectives said it appeared Zuniga had been shot several times, including what appeared to be a wound to the back of the head.
The witness was able to positively identify Ortiz through a photomontage.
Toleafoa pleaded guilty to murder in the first degree in 2014. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
For more information, please contact James Lynch at (253) 798-6265, [email protected].