Phoenix/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on February 22, 2024
21-Year-Old Suspected of Second-Degree Murder in Fatal Stabbing Linked to Drug Deal in MesaSource: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

The streets of Mesa witnessed a grim scene earlier this month when 29-year-old Kenneth Gordon was found lifeless in his apartment; now a 21-year-old homeless man, Mario Ortiz Jr., stands accused of murdering Gordon in a stabbing that seems to have drug undertones and a struggle over possession of a cellphone.

According to FOX 10 Phoenix, Mesa police discovered Gordon's body on February 9 near Power Road and Main Street, with multiple stab wounds prompting an immediate investigation that pegged Ortiz as a person of interest, and subsequently, he was detained on a felony parole warrant, court documents indicating that Ortiz asserts he did not have a knife during the altercation, and he was clueless about how Gordon ended up stabbed.

Ortiz has been booked with second-degree murder, upon an admission that he met Gordon at a bus stop for a drug purchase and subsequent use, later following him to his apartment where the unfortunate chain of events unfolded, "Gordon freaked out and came at him (with no weapons) and [Ortiz] pushed him away," he purportedly explained to investigators, as per KTAR News.

The fatal encounter escalated when Ortiz, according to his account, attempted to use Gordon's phone, leading to a tussle that resulted in Gordon grabbing his phone back and Ortiz pushing him away, after which Ortiz claims to have left the apartment in confusion, unaware of how Gordon received his fatal injuries, even though he did abscond with Gordon's phone post-incident; details of the homicide are still being pieced together by Mesa police.

Ortiz is currently detained at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office with his bond set at $100,000. He faces a string of charges, including second-degree murder, armed robbery, and first-degree burglary, in addition to his parole violation.