Jackie L. Pruitt, 60, will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2016 murder of 28-year-old Sonya Ortego at Dee's Motel near DeRidder.
The 3rd Judicial Court of appeals affirmed this conviction at a hearing on May 23.
Pruitt and his legal representation filed for appeal due to their belief that there was not enough evidence to convict Pruitt of the murder. “Mr. Pruitt claimed that there was not enough evidence presented to convict him of the crime. This is why he filed for an appeal,” Assistant District Attorney Richard Morton said. “There was plenty of evidence to convict him and the 3rd Judicial court saw it that way as well.”
At the time of the crime, Pruitt was staying at Dee’s Motel with a room next to Ortego’s. She was found brutally murdered in her hotel room on May 24, 2016.
Pruitt was arrested within 24 hours after police discovered the body.
Ortego was found wearing a shirt but no underwear. Pruitt claims that he and Ortego had had a sexual encounter the night before and denied killing her.
The Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Department found traces of Ortego’s blood in Pruitt’s hotel room. In addition to this, Pruitt had several defensive wounds showing signs of a recent struggle. Wounds consisted of numerous scratches across his arms and chest.
The investigation also showed that Pruitt had a black duffle bag in his truck which contained a credit card, cell phone and checkbook belonging to Ortego.
At the time, Pruitt was staying in DeRidder to tend to a separate legal matter.
The trial took place in May 2017 and lasted nine days. The jury voted 11-1 finding Pruitt guilty of the murder. A unanimous decision is not needed in Louisiana except in cases where the death penalty is involved.