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Jury needs just 45 minutes to convict man of 1997 murder

Jose Ruvalcaba | DuPage County sheriff’s office

(WHEATON) A man who fled to South Carolina after fatally shooting a west suburban man more than 15 years ago was found guilty of murder on Thursday, and it didn’t take the jury long.

The DuPage County jury deliberated for only about 45 minutes before returning a guilty verdict against 36-year-old Jose Ruvalcaba, according to the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office.

Ruvalcaba was charged with the December 1997 murder of 39-year-old Jose Ortiz, who shot in the chest outside his home in Downers Grove, a statement from prosecutors said.

Armed with a gun, Ruvalcaba waited behind Ortiz’s unattached garage until he left for work, “ambushed” him and shot him in the chest, prosecutors said. Ortiz died of the gunshot wound at a hospital.

Ruvalcaba then fled the state and ended up in South Carolina, prosecutors said. DuPage County detectives continued working the case and a $5 million arrest warrant was issued in 2008. He was captured in early 2012, and had been held without bond in the DuPage County Jail since February 2012.

“For nearly seventeen years, justice has been patiently waiting for Jose Ruvalcaba,” state’s attorney James Berlin said in a statement. “While Mr. Ruvalcaba has been able to avoid responsibility for his actions for a very long time, his days of living as a free man are now over.”

Ruvalcaba’s next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23 in Wheaton for a pre-sentencing report.