Law judge court
Metro Creative Graphics

SOLEDAD — Salinas Valley State Prison inmates Alberto Cortez and Jaime Romero have each been convicted by a jury of murder, announced the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office on June 3.

Cortez was convicted of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of multiple murder, based upon a prior conviction. He was also convicted of assault by a life prisoner with a deadly weapon. Romero was convicted of second-degree murder.

Each was also convicted of personally using a deadly or dangerous weapon to commit the crime.

Cortez, now 32, admitted that he had previously been convicted of six “strikes” under California’s Three Strikes Law, including a prior conviction for murder. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Romero, now 31, had previously been convicted of three “strikes.” He faces a maximum sentence of 60 years to life in prison.

On the morning of Jan. 12, 2018, correctional officers observed blood smeared on the window and leaking out beneath the door of the cell of the victim in this case, 19-year-old Jose Alcantar-Ortega. When correctional officers reached the cell, they observed Alcantar-Ortega lying motionless on the floor in a pool of blood, and inmates Cortez and Romero standing in the back of his locked cell. 

Two inmate-manufactured weapons were discovered flushed down the cell’s toilet. 

“While Alcantar-Ortega had over 70 stab wounds to his body, most of them to his back, head and neck area, inmates Cortez and Romero did not have any injuries and their hands and clothes were covered in the victim’s blood,” according to the DA’s Office.

Alcantar-Ortega was still alive when correctional officers removed him from his cell and life-saving measures were taken by prison medical staff, paramedics and medical staff at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. However, three days later, he died from his injuries.

Cortez was serving a 50-year-to-life sentence for the 2011 murder of Jose Calderon Cisneros in Castroville. Cisneros was walking home when he was shot by Cortez more than a dozen times. Cortez was also convicted of criminal gang activity for that murder.

In addition, Cortez was serving a sentence for assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and criminal gang activity, based upon leading his fellow gang members in an assault on jail deputies while awaiting trial on the Castroville murder.

Romero was serving a sentence for a 2014 assault with a firearm conviction out of San Mateo County. 

This case was investigated by the Investigative Services Unit of Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, as well as Monterey County District Attorney Investigator Erik Morris and retired District Attorney Investigator Jackie Meroney.

Previous articleNearly 300 seniors graduate from Greenfield High School at 2024 commencement
Next articleMonterey County Environmental Health announces annual permit invoices are on the way
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here