Trial in deadly drug-rip underway this week

2014-02-06T14:37:00Z Trial in deadly drug-rip underway this weekPatrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The trial of a man accused in a fatal drug-rip began this week in Pima County Superior Court.

Carlos Miguel Zacarias stands accused of gunning down Grayeagle Ortiz in October 2012.

Prosecutors argue Zacarias and two other men went to Ortiz’s house to complete a drug transaction. Ortiz had arranged to sell the men two bales of marijuana, about 50 pounds worth.

“They said, ‘We’re going to this,’ and that’s when things went bad,” Julian Ortiz, Grayeagle Ortiz’s brother, said in testimony on Wednesday.

Julian Ortiz said he was at his brother’s house to assist with the drug deal and to act as protection. He, his one-year-old daughter and two other men were at the house when Grayeagle Ortiz was killed.

Julian Ortiz said two of the men showed up first to inspect the marijuana but a third man he identified as Zacarias showed up later and shot Grayeagle Ortiz in the head. The three men then fled with the drugs, he said.

Defense attorney Sean Bruner questioned Julian Ortiz’s credibility under cross-examination, pointing out contradictory statements he made to the police.

“You brought your baby to a drug deal, is that right?” Bruner asked.

He also questioned Julian Ortiz’s denials to police about having a gun with him at the time.

Julian Ortiz said the gun was in the house, he just happened to be sitting with it when the drug deal occurred.

Co-defense counsel Staci Vierthaler argued during opening statements in the trial that police and prosecutors had built their case against Zacarias on misidentifications and the promised testimony of known felons.

“The state is going to ask you to believe the words of three drug dealers and a convicted murderer,” Vierthaler said.

Another witness prosecutors plan to have testify is a man convicted of second-degree murder in Mohave County, who spent time in jail with Grayeagle Ortiz.

The trial continues this week in the Pima County Superior Court courtroom of Judge Casey McGinley.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

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