Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Sentence increases for woman who killed mom




DEFIANCE - Erica Lynn Orta, who pleaded guilty in the spring to strangling her mother, stealing her jewelry, and stuffing her corpse into the trunk of her car, yesterday had 10 years added to a 15-years-to-life sentence she previously received.

Orta was sentenced in Defiance County Common Pleas Court to 10 years after pleading guilty to aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.

The sentence of seven years for aggravated robbery and three years for tampering with evidence followed Defiance County Prosecutor Jeffrey Strausbaugh's recommendation and takes Orta's earlier sentence of 15 years to life for murder to 25 years to life.

Judge Joseph Schmenk could have added up to 15 years to her sentence yesterday and fined her up to $30,000 for the two crimes. She was not fined; her only income is $17 a month that she is paid to serve lunch in the cafeteria of the state's prison for women in Marysville, Ohio, where she has been held since April.

Orta, who is married and the mother of three children, declined to make a statement in court, but told The Blade afterward that she will file an appeal.

In the spring she pleaded guilty to murdering her mother, Diane Acton in her Defiance home on Aug. 31. Ms. Acton, a widow, was found dead Sept. 4 in the trunk of her car in an impound lot in Lima, Ohio. Orta had changed her plea several times and tried unsuccessfully to change it back to not guilty again minutes before she was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in the spring.

The charges to which she pleaded guilty yesterday were resurrected after she let a plea bargain fall apart when she refused to testify against her co-defendant, Joseph Williams, as she had promised.

The state needed her testimony to prosecute Williams and, when she refused, prosecutors said they were forced to drop their charges against him.

Prosecutor Strausbaugh called yesterday's sentence handed down to Orta appropriate.

"She was the primary offender in this circumstance anyway," he said.

Orta has said she and Williams, a 43-year-old felon she thought of as her boyfriend, went to her mother's home intending to steal her jewelry. But once there, rage overtook Orta, who has a long criminal record.

She choked her 48-year-old mother in the kitchen of Ms. Acton's Defiance home, dragged her outside, bound her with duct tape, and put her in the trunk of her car with help from Williams, according to an arrest warrant. She then drove her mother's car to Lima, and abandoned it there - with her mother's body still in the trunk.

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