$500,000 bail set in Fitchburg murder case.

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Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER - One of three suspects in the beating and strangulation death of a California man last year in Fitchburg was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail at his arraignment yesterday morning in Worcester Superior Court.

Edward J. Ortiz, 19, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and unarmed robbery in the slaying of 32-year-old Alex Ortiz-Rivera, whose body was found Aug. 19 in a sandpit near Fitchburg Airport.

Authorities said Mr. Ortiz-Rivera, who was involved in marijuana trafficking, was beaten and his larynx was punctured and crushed.

Murder charges are still pending in Fitchburg District Court against Reinaldo Andino-Colon, 53, and his son, 23-year-old Reinaldo Andino-Benitez, both of 174 Meadowbrook Lane, Fitchburg. Police and prosecutors allege that the father and son enlisted Mr. Ortiz to help them kill Mr. Ortiz-Rivera.

At the request of Mr. Ortiz's lawyer, Dana A. Sargent, Judge David Ricciardone allowed Mr. Ortiz to stand behind a partially opened door, outside of the view of spectators, during the arraignment.

Mr. Sargent later said he made the request out of concern for his client's safety. He said he understood that shots had been fired at the home of a witness in the case.

District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. has said...

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