Attorneys argued that Timothy Ortiz, seen in court Monday, acted in self-defense after the shooting victim, Jonathan Methot, 30, of Biddeford, continued to assault him. Staff photo by Edward D. Murphy

ALFRED — A New York City man who fatally shot a Maine man in the face during an argument over drugs two years ago was found not guilty of murder Monday evening by a jury in York County Superior Court.

Jonathan Methot Courtesy of Hope Memorial Chapel

The jury, which deliberated for 2½ hours, also found Timothy Ortiz, 22, not guilty on a lesser charge of manslaughter.

The verdict, which was announced around 6:30 p.m., came after attorneys for Ortiz and the Maine Attorney General’s Office made their closing arguments Monday afternoon.

Ortiz’ attorneys argued that he acted in self-defense after the shooting victim, Jonathan Methot, 30, of Biddeford, continued to assault him even after Ortiz fired two shots that missed Methot.

During the trial, evidence was presented that Methot’s blood alcohol level during the confrontation was 0.13 – nearly twice the legal limit for driving in Maine.

Methot’s mother, Cheryl Methot, who was in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, cried.

Meg Elam and Robert Ellis, the state’s prosecutors, were unavailable for comment after the verdict.

Ortiz reacted by hugging his lawyers. One of Ortiz’ attorneys, Luke Rioux, indicated that Methot’s death was tragic.

Timothy Ortiz

“A not guilty verdict doesn’t mean it’s not a tragedy,” Rioux said after the verdict was announced.

Ortiz’s trial began Wednesday, nearly two years after he shot Methot in a Biddeford drug den.

Methot, who worked making pallets at a plant in Scarborough, lived with his mother in a duplex on West Cutts Street in Biddeford. Next door was a unit where Ortiz and others sold and used drugs, police said.

Methot showed up at the drug den around 1 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2016, upset about a $40 drug transaction earlier that night, according to police.

Ortiz was outside the apartment at the time, but got a text from a woman he had hired as a driver telling him a dispute had broken out. Ortiz went inside the apartment and got involved in the argument. Bystanders told police that Methot put his hands on Ortiz’s neck.

Brittany Cox, who had called Ortiz back to the apartment, got between the two, briefly separating them. That gave Ortiz time to draw a .357 Ruger handgun from his waistband. The two continued to tussle and Ortiz shot at Methot three times. He missed with the first two shots, but fired the third point-blank into Methot’s face.

As people spilled out of the apartment, one of Methot’s friends dragged him out to the porch, where he bled to death within minutes.

In Monday’s closing arguments, prosecutors said Ortiz had ample opportunity to walk away without firing a gun at Methot.

Ortiz wasn’t interested in peacefully settling the dispute, said Ellis, an assistant attorney general.

“He wasn’t going to let that happen,” Ellis said. “He was going to settle the score.”

Defense lawyers, however, said that Methot continued trying to assault Ortiz even after the first two shots were fired.

Rioux, Ortiz’s lawyer, said the prosecutors’ case had a lot of holes in it.

“The state asked you to speculate your way to a verdict,” Rioux said.

Rioux also noted that Methot was drunk and had used cocaine hours before the confrontation over the $40 drug sale.

If convicted, Ortiz could have faced a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Ortiz was taken into police custody in 2016 for a probation violation related to a sex trafficking charge. He has been in jail since then and it was not clear, even after Monday’s verdict, when he would be released from jail.

Several of the witnesses called to testify during the trial were granted immunity by the state because of their alleged involvement with illegal drug use and trafficking.

Ortiz’ attorneys did not call any witnesses during the trial to testify on their client’s behalf, but they did question the witnesses who were presented by the state.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]