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Padilla is held without bail

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Manuel Padilla is brought back to the lockup after his arraignment in the slaying of Adrian Ortiz. (T&G Staff/TOM RETTIG)

WORCESTER- A third suspect has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old New Hampshire man May 25 on Ethan Allen Street.

Manuel Padilla, 23, of 51 Wellington St., Apt. 103, was ordered held without bail by Judge Paul L. McGill, after being arraigned yesterday in Central District Court on a charge of murder in the slaying of Adrian Ortiz of Pelham, N.H.

Investigators said Mr. Ortiz was gunned down shortly after 3 a.m. May 25 on Ethan Allen Street after leaving a party with friends. The shooting resulted from a dispute about a woman that involved one of the victim's friends, according to police.

The alleged gunman, Hector R. Cortez-Ramos, 26, of 145 Fairmont Ave., Apt. 3, was arraigned May 28 on a murder charge and held without bail. Juan Tapia, 22, of Lowell, identified by authorities as the driver of a Jeep Cherokee in which Mr. Cortez-Ramos was believed to have been a passenger immediately before and after the shooting, was ordered held without bail at his June 19 arraignment on a charge of murder.

Assistant District Attorney Katherine P. Hatch told Judge McGill yesterday that Mr. Padilla, whose nickname is "Shorty," was alleged to have been a "joint venturer" in the slaying. Mr. Padilla was arrested Monday night on a warrant.

On the night of May 24, Mr. Ortiz came to Worcester from his home in Pelham, N.H., to celebrate a friend's birthday, authorities said. The group ended up at Club Voodoo, where one of Mr. Ortiz's friends was warned by another patron not to flirt with his girlfriend, according to Ms. Hatch.

Later, at a party at 27 Ethan Allen St., Mr. Ortiz's friend ran into the same woman and was again warned by the man not to flirt with her, the prosecutor said. A short time later, Mr. Cortez-Ramos allegedly put a gun to the friend's chest and asked him if he had a problem, Ms. Hatch said.

Mr. Ortiz and his friends left the party at that time. The three suspects left about two minutes later and got into the Jeep Cherokee, which was seen circling the block just before and after the shooting, according to Ms. Hatch. She said the vehicle was registered to Mr. Padilla's girlfriend.

The prosecutor said a witness, whose identity was not disclosed in court, reported hearing gunshots at about the time of the shooting. The witness went to a window, heard more shots, then saw a man run to a Jeep Cherokee and get into the back seat, the assistant district attorney said.

A surveillance video showed the three suspects walking into 51 Wellington St. about a half-hour after the shooting, Ms. Hatch told the court.

At Ms. Hatch's request, Judge Paul L. McGill ordered Mr. Padilla held without bail on the murder charge and revoked his bail on two pending cases. The pending cases included motor vehicle and drug charges. The murder case was continued to Aug. 1.

Lawyer James G. Reardon Jr. was appointed by the state Committee for Public Counsel Services to represent Mr. Padilla on the murder charge.
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