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Delhi defendant sentenced for murder of Hilmar girlfriend
Jesus Ortega
Jesus Ortega

A Delhi man is headed to prison for several decades for stabbing to death his girlfriend in front of her teenage daughters outside their Hilmar home in 2010.

On Jan. 6, Merced County Superior Court Judge Carol Ash sentenced Jesus Ortega, 49, of Delhi to 33 years, 8 months to life in prison for the 2010 murder of Armanda Lllanos-Flores. Ortega had been found guilty by a Merced County jury on Nov. 10, 2020 on charges of felony first-degree murder with personal use of a deadly weapon, one count of felony assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury, and one count of felony criminal threats. 

On March 31, 2010, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 1900 block of First Street in Hilmar for the report of a stabbing.

According to the Merced County District's Attorney Office, Ortega and Flores had argued earlier in the day and Ortega had left. He returned several hours later after drinking whiskey at a nearby ranch.

"The defendant was angry and confronted the victim. The victim and her two daughters, then ages 14 and 16, fled the home in fear for their lives," the district attorney's office stated in a news release.

Ortega chased down Flores and stabbed her at least once, which was deep in the neck and caused a fatal wound, according to the district attorney's office.

Flores' brother tried to stop Ortega and in return, Ortega stabbed him in the back before fleeing the scene. Ortega fled to Mexico and was returned to Merced County in late 2018.

During the trial, the victim’s daughters testified not only to the murder they witnessed, but also related to the jury prior, unreported acts of domestic violence they had seen the defendant commit against their mother.

During the course of the investigation, Merced County Sheriff's deputies found evidence of methamphetamine use and manufacturing at the house. Detectives with the sheriff’s department served out three search warrants and agents with the Merced Mariposa High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force were brought into the investigation.

At the First Street residence, investigators found $2,500 in methamphetamine, as well as canisters of acetone and other chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine.

The search turned up evidence of another methamphetamine lab in the 1000 block of Mitchell Road in Turlock. On that property, agents found a lab operating out of a barn. Agents found approximately one pound of finished product with a street value of about $20,000. The labs were methamphetamine conversion labs, where the narcotic is converted into crystal methamphetamine.

Deputy District Attorneys Nicole Silveira and Kayla Boyer prosecuted the case.