Before 44-year-old Nelson Ortiz was sent to prison for voluntary manslaughter on Wednesday, he took responsibility for the April 2020 fatal shooting but said he was acting “in the preservation of my own life.”
“Brandon’s death was no one’s fault but mine, I want everybody to know that,” Ortiz said, referring to the April 2020 day he shot and killed 32-year-old Brandon Coristine.
District Judge Tierra Jones sentenced Ortiz to 4 to 12 1/2 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter with use of a deadly weapon. Ortiz was also ordered to pay about $876 in restitution.
Prosecutors said Ortiz shot Coristine in his bedroom over a $300 debt. Afterward, Ortiz fled to a 7-Eleven with his co-defendant, 31-year-old Eli Marin, where Oritz threatened Marin, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Giordani told the judge. Marin and his girlfriend called 911 to report the shooting from the store, the prosecutor said.
Marin, who has pleaded guilty to an assault with a deadly weapons charge, is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, court records show.
In April 2019, Ortiz pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit possession of a stolen vehicle, court records show.
Defense attorney Jonathan MacArthur argued that Ortiz’s criminal history was non-violent and related to substance abuse.
“That doesn’t minimize the fact that someone died. That is of the upmost importance here and it’s why we’re having this discussion,” MacArthur told the judge. “But it does lend credibility to (Ortiz’s) version of events that he did not intend to harm Brandon Coristine.”
Ortiz said he was with Marin at Coristine’s house the day of the shooting, when multiple people were using drugs. An scuffle ensued, during which Ortiz and Coristine began struggling over Ortiz’s gun, and the gun went off, Ortiz said.
Giordani said Coristine was not the aggressor. After Ortiz shot Coristine, the victim’s mother held him as he died, Giordani said.
“I don’t go a day without seeing that scene over and over and over, and hearing him say ‘Mom I love you,’” Coristine’s mother, Melissa Lickteig, said during the sentencing. “And then having him turn to look at me and take his last breath.”