UTICA — The family of murder victim Deon Williams Jr. expressed intense grief Friday as the man convicted of killing their loved one received his sentence in Oneida County Court.

Omar Ortiz, 35, of Utica was handed an indeterminate sentence of 25 years to life in state prison for the murder of 25-year-old Williams Jr., also of Utica, on June 28, 2018. 

On March 18, a jury convicted Ortiz of fatally shooting Williams Jr. behind an apartment at 1019 Bleecker St. in Utica.

"There’s little I can say here. … You’ve caused grievous harm to a family," Judge Robert Bauer said just prior to sentencing, calling Ortiz's act "a conscious, intentional murder."

In addition to 25 years to life for murder, Ortiz also was sentenced on eight other charges, which added another nine years to his total sentence.

Seven of the sentences will be served concurrently with his murder conviction: 15 years each on three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and one-year each on three counts of second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia.

The eighth, nine years for criminal possession of a controlled substance, will be served after those other sentences have ended.

Family impact

In court Friday, members of Williams Jr.'s family read impact statements about how his death has torn at their lives.

An emotional Deon Williams Sr. challenged Ortiz to look him in the face as he addressed the court regarding how the shooting impacted the Williams family.

"I can’t forgive you. … You are not a man, you are a coward," the victim's father said. "There’s no peace in my heart. … I’m doing everything I can to stay peaceful."

"I hope you never get out," he added. " ... I don’t want nothing good to come out of this with you."

"Family meant everything to Deon. … His memory will never die," said his mother, Irene Nichols.

Amanda Nichols, the victim's sister, read an open letter to her brother, mentioning how "the holidays weren’t the same this year" without him there.

"You touched a lot of people … the east side (of Utica) will never be the same," she said. "… Until we meet again baby brother. I love you."

Attorneys' statements

"I think at this trial, you got to see a couple different versions of Ortiz," Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Michael Nolan said during the sentencing.

He pointed to the difference between the Ortiz people saw on the stand, crying during testimony, and the man who appeared defiant and agitated in video recorded police interviews played for the jury.

"Mr. Ortiz saw Deon Williams on the ground and continued to fire the gun," Nolan said in court. "He executed him and left him to die behind a building."

Defense attorney Leland McCormac, however, maintained that Ortiz did not go looking for Williams Jr. on the day of the shooting. Instead, he said, Williams Jr. had come to Ortiz's residence.

"There’s no question how strong his family feels. However, there’s definitely another side," McCormac said.

Ortiz also spoke during his sentencing, relying on the help of a Spanish interpreter.

"I just want to say I am very sorry to the family for everything that happened," he said. "Everything happened so fast. If he didn’t come to my house, none of this would have happened."

During the trial, witnesses testified that an argument between the two men had preceded the shooting.

Contact reporter Jolene Cleaver at 315-792-4956 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Cleaver).