A Redwood City woman serving 13 years to life in prison for attempting to kill her husband with an insecticide-laced milk shake before fleeing to Mexico for several years with their young son was denied parole Tuesday for another three years.
The parole hearing at the women’s prison in Chowchilla found Elizabeth Fuentes-Ortiz, 44, unsuitable for release. The decision was Fuentes’ second denial since becoming eligible for parole. She was convicted in February 2002 of attempted murder and concealing a child and the special allegations of inflicting great bodily injury and torture on her then-husband Gilbert Ortiz.
On March 11, 1991, Fuentes-Ortiz brought her husband, at his Toys R Us workplace, the milk shake laced with Ortho-7 insecticide. She told him it was a protein shake intended to help him build muscle mass. Gilbert Ortiz testified that the drink tasted “like chocolate but sour and burning.”
Ortiz fell to the ground in convulsions, slipped into a 10-day coma and suffered multiple organ failures, a heart attack and was incommunicative. He testified he has residual health problems from the poisoning.
While her husband was comatose, Fuentes-Ortiz gave Redwood City police conflicting stories of from where the poison originated — once she said a masked man tried to kill her husband; another time she claimed it was a suicide attempt.
By the time Ortiz could tell authorities who had given him the questionable shake, Fuentes-Ortiz had fled to Mexico with their 2-year-old son, Jonathan. She was profiled numerous times on the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries” over the eight years it took FBI agents to arrest her in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Jonathan remained missing until Fuentes-Ortiz’s mother brought him to the county jail to visit his imprisoned mother.
Fuentes-Ortiz told the court during the 15-day trial that by poisoning her husband she meant only to incapacitate, not kill him, to escape an abusive marriage that included sexual abuse. Prosecutors countered that the murder attempt was fueled by jealousy and anger over his long work hours.