Suspect pleads guilty to 2017 cab driver murder

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – More than five years after he admitted to stabbing a taxi driver with a sword, 52-year-old Victor Ortiz pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. 

Ortiz was indicted by a grand jury in 2017 for first-degree murder. The plea deal he took Tuesday afternoon lessens that charge and his sentence. Also part of the deal, Ortiz pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony charge of larceny of more than $500. 

Ortiz admitted to stabbing his yellow-checker cab driver, Khalil Jabbour, with a sword back in 2017. A good Samaritan who witnessed the stabbing drove Jabbour and his cab to Presbyterian hospital, but Jabbour did not survive. Police arrested Ortiz near the scene based off the witness’s description.

In 2019, a judge threw out the statement Ortiz gave that night, where he claimed the victim was part of the “Illuminati” and the conspiracy group had been after him for nearly a year. The judge said Ortiz was not coherent and did not understand his Miranda Rights.

Judge Cindy Leos made sure Ortiz understood the agreement he entered in district court Tuesday.

“The second-degree murder carries a basic sentence of 15 years imprisonment, and a two-year parole term,” she explained to Ortiz, adding that the larceny charge carries an 18-month sentence, which Ortiz and the state agreed he will serve at the same time.

“At initial sentencing, the parties agree to 13 years incarceration in the Department of Corrections, and then the remaining time will be served on supervised probation,” Judge Leos said. “Is that as far as your understanding, the agreement that you’re entering today?”

“I’m pretty sure I’m not misunderstanding, yes,” Ortiz replied in court. 

He was not sentenced Tuesday. Judge Leos set Ortiz’s sentencing hearing out for 10 days.