GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) -—The family of Ernie Ortiz, a restaurant owner from Garden City who was shot and killed in 2019, is speaking out after Samantha Jo Smith, who is charged with Ortiz’s murder, posted bond Monday.
Smith was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in September 2023. Her bond was initially set at $250,000. When she asked a judge to lower it, they did.
Selina Sanchez, Ortiz’s niece, said she and her family are disheartened, deeply saddened and confused about how Smith could bond out.
“To find that she was allowed to go out and return to, I guess, her family, that’s very upsetting to us because my uncle wasn’t given that choice,” said Sanchez. “We are missing out on him not being with us, and that hurts us every single day.”
Sanchez says times like these are difficult.
“It’s really hard because when we experience these different events rising in the case, it’s challenging for us. It’s frequently a step back for us, and it’s already been very traumatic for all of us, and when we get these setbacks when we have these events happen, it’s like a retraumatization,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez said, in the end, she believes justice will be served.
“We want his legacy to be upheld in the best way possible,” said Sanchez.