A man who stabbed an acquaintance outside a methadone clinic after accusing the victim and another man of stealing gold coins from him was convicted Friday of assault with a deadly weapon but acquitted of attempted murder.
Oscar Ortiz, 58, is scheduled to be sentenced March 22 for the Jan. 31, 2018, attack on Joseph Berube.
Officers found the victim that afternoon at the corner of Stevens Road and North Palm Canyon Drive, suffering from a stab wound to the chest. Ortiz fled the scene after the stabbing, and was not apprehended for about a week and a half.
Earlier this week, Deborah Porter testified that she’d been living in a Rancho Mirage transient 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 saw Ortiz and did not note anything out of the ordinary, she said. Later, Ortiz 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, the witness said, and Ortiz began talking about missing some gold coins.
Porter, Berube and Nahas did not know what coins Ortiz was referencing, but he “kept insisting” that Nahas and Berube had stolen them, Porter said.
She testified 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 was stabbed when he stepped in between Nahas and the defendant, according to police.
Porter was subpoenaed to testify.
“This isn’t something I really wanted to do,” she said.