Mysterious gold coins led a man to stab an acquaintance outside a methadone clinic in 2018, according to witness testimony Tuesday.
Oscar Ortiz, 58, is charged with attempted murder for the Jan. 31, 2018 stabbing of Joseph Berube, who was found by officers with a stab wound to the chest at about 1:35 p.m. on the corner of Stevens Road and North Palm Canyon Drive, police said.
Witness Deborah Porter testified that on the day of the stabbing she’d been living in a Rancho Mirage camp with her husband, George Nahas, and Berube, and that she had known Ortiz for about two years from a methadone clinic she goes to every day.
Hours before the stabbing, Porter had seen Ortiz and did not note anything out of the ordinary, she said. Later, Ortiz had casually walked up to her, Berube and Nahas in front of the Sun Bus stop outside of the clinic where they had all been hanging out. Ortiz began arguing about his missing gold coins, according to testimony.
Porter, Berube and Nahas did not know what coins Ortiz was referencing, but Ortiz “kept insisting” that Nahas and Berube had stolen his coins.
Porter struggled to get through the rest of her testimony, but was able to testify that Ortiz pulled out a “pocket knife like my husband carries, like all the dudes carry” and lunged at Nahas, who was sitting in a wheelchair during the argument. Berube stepped in the way of Nahas and was stabbed himself, according to police.
“Oscar was a nice person. I never saw a look on someone’s face before,” Porter said.
Porter was subpoenaed to testify in the case, she said at trial. “This isn’t something I really wanted to do,” she added. She cited possible jail time as her reason for testifying.
Ortiz allegedly fled the scene on the Sun Bus after the stabbing, and was not apprehended until Feb. 10, 2018. He has been in Indio Larson Justice Center since that time.
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