Jury convicts Pruitt of 2016 murder at motel near DeRidder

By Pamela Sleezer / American Press

DERIDDER — A jury in 36th Judicial District Court convicted Jackie L. Pruitt, 59, Thursday of first-degree murder in the 2016 death of 28 year-old Sonya Ortego in a local motel.

Members of the 12-person jury deliberated for 75 minutes before rendering their 11-1 verdict.

“I think that he got what he deserved for killing my daughter,” Sharon Ortego, the victim’s mother, told the American Press.

Ortego said that sitting through the seven-day trial, which included viewing images from the crime scene and her daughter’s autopsy, was difficult. “No mother should have to go through that,” she said.

Sonya Ortego’s body was discovered on March 24, 2016, at a motel on U.S. 171 in Pleasant Hill, just outside DeRidder. Pruitt was arrested March 25, 2016.

According to the bill of indictment, Pruitt killed Sonya Ortego while “engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of aggravated battery, aggravated rape (also known as first degree rape), and armed robbery.”

District Attorney James Lestage, whose office prosecuted the case, said he was grateful the jury was able to reach a just.

Judge Martha Ann O’Neal said she would schedule Pruitt’s sentencing by written order.

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