GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The man convicted of killing a 4-year-old boy who maintains his innocence, was dragged from the courtroom Thursday during his sentencing after a scuffle with deputies.
Elis Nelson Ortiz, 25, was sentenced to life without parole in prison, convicted in December of beating Giovanni Mejias, 4, to death. Mejias was his girlfriend Sonja Hernandez's son, who previously maintained Ortiz's innocence along with many family members.
"Some of the bruises were in the shape of a belt buckle, that you used--" said Judge Trusock, repeating evidence during Thursday's sentencing.
"Crazy s--- you're saying about me man," Ortiz interrupted. "You're saying things you don't even know."
"Sir, the testimony showed that you put this child and other children in a shower with ice cold water," said Judge Trusock, who paused to say anyone who speaks in the gallery will be arrested and held in contempt, as Ortiz's mother shouted through tears, "Nelson!"
While Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock was delivering his sentence, Ortiz interrupted him proclaiming his innocence, and refuting the evidence repeated. A scuffle between he and deputies ensued, while he was dragged from court.
Shortly after, deputies returned Ortiz to the courtroom and the judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
"There is no question in my mind sir, that you did this,"Judge Trusock told Ortiz. "You are the lowest form of human life that I’ve been able to observe or see. You are a monster, and quite frankly, you are evil."
He went on to say, "You will die in prison."
Mejias' grandmother addressed the court, saying their "family is torn apart."
"Yesterday was the hardest day, it was Giovanni’s fifth birthday and instead of us celebrating, we took balloons to his grave site," said Nora Villarreal-Mulero, Mejias' grandmother.
Ortiz maintained his innocence throughout the trial, telling FOX 17 that he woke up to find the boy injured with severe stomach bloating. He and Hernandez's combined seven children under the age of 11 were in the home at the time last June. According to court records, Mejias died from fatal abdominal injuries.
"Despite whatever anybody believes, I’m going to continue to state my innocence," said Ortiz before he was sentenced.
"I’m going to continue to say I will take a lie detector test to prove that I never abused any of Sonja’s kids, or never abused Giovanni, and never intentionally meant to hurt Giovanni but to help him."
Ortiz and his attorney say they are appealing his conviction.