November 9, 2022


Craig Smith Found Guilty of First Degree Murder for the Death of His Elderly Aunt Josie Ortega

Craig Smith Found Guilty of First Degree Murder for the Death of His Elderly Aunt Josie Ortega

Albuquerque, NM – This afternoon, a jury found Craig Smith guilty of first degree murder, felony murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence. Smith is facing life in prison. 

Craig Smith was a known drug addict and was racking up a large debt with local drug dealers. Because of Smith’s drug-driven behaviors he plotted and executed the murder of his elderly aunt Josie Ortega on May 17, 2017. Prior to the murder Smith randomly visited his aunt for Mother’s Day a week or so before her death. He then came back days later to enter her home under false pretense, steal almost $100k, and then murder Mrs. Ortega. Video surveillance at a local Walmart days before the murder shows Smith purchasing zip ties and other materials that were found at the scene and attached to Mrs. Ortega’s body. 

As said in closing statements made by Deputy District Attorney John Duran, “Craig Smith acted as a trojan horse, a trojan horse who lured his elderly aunt to unlock and open her home to him for her to then be brutally murdered.” 

The trial lasted over a week with the jury coming to a verdict within four hours. 

“It is clear that our community and the nation are struggling from severe drug addictions that lead individuals down a path of brutality and violence,” said District Attorney Raúl Torrez. “Mr. Smith had time to coerce and trick his family member into believing that he cared for her when really he wanted to take her for all she had, which included her life. Mrs. Ortega did not deserve to die this way after a life of raising four children and being a good steward in the community. The only somewhat happy ending is that Mr. Smith will spend a very long time in prison.”

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