Arrest made in stabbing death of Paso Robles man, sheriff announces

A suspect was arrested in the stabbing death of a rural Paso Robles man, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday morning.

Fausto Ortega Maldonado, 28, of Paso Robles was arrested Aug. 23 on suspicion of killing 20-year-old Primitivo Pacheco Ortega, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The District Attorney’s Office filed a single charge of murder against Ortega Maldonado late Monday.

He’s scheduled to be arraigned in San Luis Obispo Superior Court Tuesday.

Ortega Maldonado had already been in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he was serving a 60-day sentence for a felony domestic violence conviction, according to Superior Court records.

Ortega Maldonado pleaded no contest to the charge in May, and he began serving his sentence on July 26. After his most recent arrest, Ortega Maldonado is being held without bail, according to jail records.

On July 7, Pacheco Ortega, a migrant farm worker, was found dead with “multiple stab wounds” off Estrella Road near Hog Canyon, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He did not have any identification on him when he was found, and detectives identified him through fingerprints, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The Sheriff’s Office later announced authorities were investigating his death as a homicide.

No motive indicated

Pacheco Ortega and Ortega Maldonado knew each other prior to the alleged homicide but were not related, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at a news conference. He declined to provide more information about the nature of the men’s relationship or a motive for the alleged homicide.

Ortega Maldonado is not a United States citizen and has previously been deported, Parkinson said. The Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), he said.

Under Senate Bill 54 — also known as California’s “sanctuary state” law — agencies can provide ICE with information about individuals who have been convicted of violent felonies.

Parkinson said the case was especially challenging because nearly all of the people they interviewed during the investigation did not speak English — instead, they spoke different Spanish dialects.

Court records show Ortega Maldonado required a translator who knew Mixteco, a regional language spoken in Mexico.

“This was an extremely difficult case to solve,” Parkinson said in a news release. “Over the last seven weeks, detectives spent many hours working this case and through extensive follow-up, interviews and forensic analysis, detectives were about to make an arrest.”

The homicide was not gang-related and was not connected to the April shooting death of Daniel Fuentes Sr. in Oceano, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Last week, the Sheriff’s Office announced that Nathaniel Alexander Jara, 21, of Avila Beach and brothers Gabriel Luis Garay, 21, and Robert Joseph Garay, 28, had been arrested on suspicion of killing Fuentes, who died after trying to get help from a neighbor.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include the filing of a murder charge.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune

Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.