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Friday, September 30, 2022
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A grand jury indicted a local woman Monday for first-degree premeditated murder after police say she shot her ex-boyfriend a day before Valentine’s Day this year.

The indictment comes nearly two months after police arrested Katherine Jean Tonner, 24, in connection with the death of her ex-boyfriend, 26-year-old Jose Ricardo Ortiz III. Ortiz was found dead in Tonner’s room at The Ridge at Gainesville with at least one bullet wound in his head, according to Alligator archives.

On Monday, a grand jury evaluated evidence presented by the state attorney and indicted Tonner on a charge of first-degree premeditated murder.

One of Tonner’s roommates discovered Ortiz’s body after he heard three loud bangs from Tonner’s room and then a fire alarm at about noon, according to an arrest report. He found Ortiz’s body facedown near Tonner’s bed and expended shell casings nearby.

The roommate saw Tonner drive away before Tonner called 911 from her parent’s home. She told dispatch she had shot a man whom she loved after he had asked her for money, according to the report. She said she was suicidal.

She told a responding Alachua County Sheriff’s deputy she had placed the gun in a kitchen drawer.

“I shot him in the head,” she told the deputy, per the report. “I never meant to hurt anyone.”

After the initial investigation, Gainesville Police submitted an amended arrest report, including the discovery of a suicide note in Tonner’s room. Police said Tonner professed her love for Ortiz in the note.

On a calendar on the wall outside her room, police found hearts and the word “death” written in all capital letters under Feb. 14, according to the report.

Prior to the shooting, Tonner reached out to Ortiz’s mother to have him come back for things left in Tonner’s apartment, police said.

She insisted Ortiz be the one to come pick up the items, and, the day of the shooting, left work to go meet him at her apartment, according to the report.

During the crime scene investigation, police determined that Tonner shot the gun at least five times while standing between the door and Ortiz.

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Ortiz was shot four times, including twice after he had fallen to the ground, according to the investigation.

UF law professor Kenneth Nunn, the assistant director of the Criminal Justice Center, said the indictment means the grand jury found probable cause to press formal charges. He said it could take months for a trial but if the state attorney makes it a capital offense, Tonner’s maximum sentence could be the death penalty.

As of press time, Tonner remains in custody at Alachua County Jail.

Contact Meryl Kornfield at mkornfield@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @MerylKornfield

Katherine Jean Tonner

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