19-year-old Joseph Sotelo was found dead in the home of his close friend, Manuel Ortiz III, on March 24th, 2013. A known thrill seeker, Ortiz was found face down in the living room with a gunshot wound to the head, and a revolver on the floor. The gun only had one bullet in the cylinder, yet there were 5 live rounds littered on a couch in the living room.
Belonging to Ortiz's father, the gun had a California Department of Justice-approved gun safety wire lock. This device is put in place to prevent accidental shooting, and the gun was stored underneath the couch as a form of protection. Sotelo's death was initially found inconclusive, and his mother sued a number of people in connection to the case for wrongful death--including the entire Ortiz family. However, these claims were all dismissed as each family member was cleared one by one.
As each defendant was dismissed from the case, Ortiz's mother continued to maintain there was an intent to murder as well as negligent gun storage in the presence of a minor, referring to Ortiz's little sister who was 17-years-old at the time. Eventually, the Santa Paula police officers determined this case was a suicide. This was later further propagated due to Sotelo's personality, which was confirmed to be rather rash and daring.
According to those who knew him, Sotelo had a "bucket list" in which he listed the rather risky endeavors he hoped to accomplish throughout his life, and he already had a history of making dangerous decisions such as climbing the Santa Paula clock tower by himself at night. Therefore, it was ruled that Sotelo was carrying out his wishes of finally playing Russian Roulette. Having previously played it with an unloaded gun, he took his chance with Ortiz's gun--a chance which cost him his life.
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If you or a loved one is in need of a personal injury lawyer who won't give up on you or your case, look no further than our team at Richard l Bartlett Lawyers. Wrongful death is one of the most catastrophic injuries to occur, and our legal team knows just how emotionally devastating of an occurrence this is. This is why we strive to deliver you the results you deserve, in our pursuit of justice on your behalf.
Contact us by calling (805) 438-2440 to speak to a member of our team.