Timothy Ortiz, the New York man who was acquitted Monday of murder in a shooting in Biddeford in 2016, faces new legal problems in Maine.

Timothy Ortiz

Ortiz, 26, was charged Wednesday with being a felon in possession of a gun, a federal crime.

He has been incarcerated since his arrest after the September 2016 shooting on a charge of violating probation. Ortiz had been convicted in early 2016 for aggravated sex trafficking and furnishing drugs to women in return for their engaging in prostitution.

Ortiz’s lawyer, Luke Rioux, said his client was scheduled to be released Wednesday at 8 a.m., but instead was arrested on the federal gun charges. He appeared in U.S. District Court in Portland on Wednesday afternoon and was ordered held without bail until a detention hearing Monday.

Several witnesses in the murder trial testified that they had seen Ortiz with a gun prior to the shooting, including at least twice answering the door with a gun in his hand. In the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Jonathan Methot, a search warrant was obtained for an apartment in Westbrook where Ortiz sometimes stayed. Police said they found the .357-caliber Ruger which was used in the Methot shooting hidden on top of a suspended ceiling tile in the bathroom.

Ortiz’s lawyer said the decision to levy gun charges against Ortiz two days after his acquittal was suspicious.

“As I understand it, the federal prosecutors have been sitting on this case for close to two years,” Rioux said. “The timing today raises the suspicion that they are acting now, not in some sudden need to enforce federal law, but in response to Monday’s murder acquittal.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee said federal prosecutors were simply waiting to see the outcome of the murder trial. If Ortiz had been convicted and received a long sentence, she said, there might have been no need to bring further charges.

Jonathan Methot

On Monday, jurors in York County Superior Court decided that Ortiz had acted in self-defense when he shot Methot in a Biddeford drug den in September 2016. Ortiz was found not guilty of murder and a lesser charge of manslaughter.

The shooting occurred during a confrontation between the two men over a drug deal earlier in the night. Methot lived with his mother in a duplex on West Cutts Street, and Ortiz and others were using and selling drugs in the adjoining unit.

Rioux had argued that Methot repeatedly came after Ortiz, putting a hand around his neck, even after the New Yorker had pulled out a handgun and fired two shots. The first two shots missed, but then Ortiz fired the fatal shot point-blank in Methot’s face.

Prosecutors said Methot had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 percent and had taken cocaine earlier in the evening, but argued in court that Ortiz didn’t need to shoot him to protect himself.

If he had been convicted on the state’s charges, Ortiz faced 25 years to life on the murder charge and up to 30 years on the manslaughter charge.

On the federal gun charge, Ortiz faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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