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What you need to know for 06/28/2017

Guilty plea in Schenectady murder, kidnap case

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Guilty plea in Schenectady murder, kidnap case

Harold M. Ortiz, 45, pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court this morning for the murder of Valer
Guilty plea in Schenectady murder, kidnap case
An older, undated mugshot of Harold Michael Ortiz from when he was in prison, left, and a more recent mugshot.

An ex-convict pleaded guilty today to murdering a woman and kidnapping a man he buried in the basement of a Union Street home in September.

Harold M. Ortiz, 45, pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court this morning to the murder of Valerie Washington, 55, and also pleaded guilty to kidnapping Ralph Carson, 65.

Both were found buried in the basement of 1330 Union St. Carson had been struck in the head with a shovel and buried alive under several feet of debris that included a toilet, tire and boxes. He was found near death.

Ortiz pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping, which each carry 25 year to life sentences, according to Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney. They would be served concurrently, he said.

Ortiz also faces 2.5 to 5 years for counts of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, Carney said.

The charges are for the items he stole from Washington and Carson, along with items he possessed that were stolen from them at another location, Carney said.

In total, Ortiz faces 30 years to life in jail, he said.

Ortiz, of Schenectady, previously served a full term of 17 years in state prison for attempted murder in Brooklyn, according to records. He was released from state custody in July 2015 from the Marcy Correctional Facility in Utica.

Read previous stories here and here.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, hviccaro@dailygazette.net or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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