PHOENIX — A suspect accused of killing his former girlfriend this month had an order of protection filed against him six months ago that was never served.
On Dec. 22, Airam Melo, 27, was stabbed to death. She had filed an order of protection against Brian Ortez-Garcia, 33, in June after a series of incidents, according to court records obtained by 12 News.
Ortez-Garcia has since been arrested for her murder.
The Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, the agency designated to serve the order of protection, said the order “was placed into suspension” on Aug. 11, 2021, and remains unserved, six months after it was filed, “pending further information provided to MCSO.”
The agency said it received some of the paperwork on June 30, the day the order was filed, but MCSO initially claimed the Service of Process (SOP) form was missing. The agency later told 12 News they did, in fact, receive it.
The wrong name led to an order of protection not being served
MCSO said an SOP form provides the best-known information about a defendant to law enforcement, constables and process servers. They also use it to perform background checks on defendants.
On July 2, MCSO said it conducted a background check using the information they were provided, but “it yielded no responses that allowed MCSO to locate the individual for service.”
MCSO said the name and date of birth of the defendant they were provided was “Brayan Ortez,” born on Oct. 17, 1995.
Court records of the order of protection obtained by 12 News show the same name and date of birth on the document. But the spelling and birthday are wrong.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office confirmed the person named “Brian Arron Ortez-Garcia” born on Oct.16, 1994, was the suspect accused of killing Melo. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2018.
The wrong spelling of the suspect is also found in the Phoenix police press release and in the court records that include the second-degree murder charge.
“I feel like it’s a failed system,” said Azul Melo, the victim’s sister. “They should have done more. I feel like they should have reached out to my sister or personally gone out to see her that information was missing or that they couldn’t serve him.”
MCSO said Airam Melo was not notified about information being inaccurate on the documentation filed because “the notification marker for this Order of Protection is selected ‘no’ within [the portal], MCSO did not contact the petitioner. This indictor is instructive to the serving agency not to contact the petitioner.”
The agency said it left them with no leads on the defendant’s whereabouts, and the order remained unserved in AZPOINT. AZPOINT is the website portal used by the court system to designate service agencies for orders of protection.
Airam Melo’s family wants more accuracy from the people who handle court orders.
“People that work in that type of work should consider looking into a person’s name and how they can be spelled,” Azul Melo said.
12 News asked MCSO and Maricopa County Clerk’s Office if additional information was requested by either agency to serve the order of protection against Ortez-Garcia and if either party followed up after the order wasn’t served but have not heard back.
A single mother with more life to live
Airam Melo was a single mother of a 7-year-old boy.
“Funny and caring,” Azul Melo said about her sister. “As having lots of friends, always going out, having a good time.”
For about two years, Airam Melo and Ortez-Garcia dated on and off, but the pair had an unhealthy relationship, her sister said.
“Toxic. Like one day [they’re] good, two hours later she’s kicking him out of the apartment and by the end of the night he’s back home in the apartment,” Azul Melo said.
In June, Airam Melo filed an order of protection against Ortez-Garcia.
Court documents obtained by 12 News detail an incident between the couple on June 28, where the victim said Ortez-Garcia showed up to her apartment under the influence and broke two windows.
The following day, Ariam Melo said the suspect tried to put sugar in her gas tank. After that incident, she called the police, who allegedly instructed her to file the paperwork.
Ortez-Garcia has been charged with second-degree murder.
Airam Melo’s family said she would be buried in Guerrero, México.
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