Man accused of burying neighbor alive in Schenectady to serve over 30 years in prison

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A man who strangled a woman to death and buried another man alive will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Harold Ortiz, 45, admitted to strangling 55-year-old Valerie Washington and then hitting 65-year-old Ralph Carson with a shovel and leaving him for dead under a pile of debris in September 2015.

Carson survived three days and was only 10 feet away from the decomposing body. He wasn’t discovered until police made a welfare check and noticed the smell.

“I am sorry for my despicable actions,” Ortiz said. “At this point, there is nothing I can do or say that will change what has been done. I am sincerely sorry for all that has happened. Period.”

In June, Ortiz pleaded guilty to counts of Murder in the Second Degree, Kidnapping in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree.

Ortiz had previously served 17 years in prison, but when he committed the earlier crime, New York State did not have mandatory post-release supervision, and he walked free after he was released.

For the 2015 crime, Ortiz will serve concurrent sentences of 25 years to life in prison on the Murder and Kidnapping convictions and consecutive sentences of 2.5 to 5 years’ incarceration for the larceny and stolen property counts.

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