Home News Harlem man argues self-defense in neighbor’s cricket-bat killing

Harlem man argues self-defense in neighbor’s cricket-bat killing

A Manhattan man accused of fatally bashing in his neighbor’s head with a cricket bat says the weapon actually belonged to the man he killed and he was defending himself from an attack.

Victor Springer, 35, faces murder charges for the Saturday killing of 40-year-old Guillermo Edgardo Ortiz Palacios in Harlem, but his lawyer contends he was acting in self-defense — and the judge overseeing the arraignment described the case as “factually murky.”

Cops found Ortiz Palacios unconscious with a massive head injury at about 3:15 a.m. in a stairwell between the first and second floors of an apartment building on Frederick Douglass Blvd. near W. 120th St.

His head was bashed in, he was laying in a puddle of blood and more blood stained the walls and coated the cricket bat next to him, according to a criminal complaint.

On Sunday, horrifying video of Ortiz Palacios lying on the ground before first responders arrived was circulating among residents of the building, drawing outrage from those who saw it.

“You didn’t just beat him up. You killed him. That was an overkill. His face was disfigured,” said a resident who declined to be named.

“You can’t tell who he is. His face was smashed in. It looked like he was already dying and he kept going. Look at all the slashes on his face, looks at the disfiguration,” the person added. “The swelling. There was blood and brain mass on the floor. This was not self-defense.”

Guillermo Ortiz was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital after he was found unconscious and unresponsive with head trauma inside of a building on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Manhattan on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News

Guillermo Ortiz was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital after he was found unconscious and unresponsive with head trauma inside of a building on Frederick Douglass Blvd. in Manhattan on Saturday. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

“I did nothing wrong. I was attacked. I did nothing wrong,” Springer said after he was ordered held without bail at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The complaint lays out part of the timeline leading up to the gruesome find.

At about 3 a.m., Ortiz Palacios was spotted on surveillance video entering the stairwell, holding a clean cricket bat.

Moments later, Springer could be seen leaving the stairwell on the second floor — only he was the one holding the bat, which was covered in blood, according to the complaint.

Springer lingered on the second floor, then re-entered the stairwell and emerged a few seconds later on the ground floor, the bat no longer in his hands, according to the complaint.

A witness flagged down a police officer to let him know about the bloody scene, according to the complaint.

Guillermo Ortiz (Courtesy of the victim's family)

Courtesy of the victim’s family

Guillermo Ortiz (Courtesy of the victim’s family)

As that happened, Springer walked to the nearby 28th Precinct stationhouse, where he told cops there that one of the residents of the building attacked him with a cricket bat, according to the complaint.

“In response, he severely injured that person and left that person unconscious and motionless in the second-floor stairwell in the building,” authorities paraphrased in the criminal complaint.

Springer refused medical attention but said the other man would need an ambulance, according to the complaint.

Assistant D.A. Nicole Papastavrou asked that Springer be held without bail Sunday, explaining, “The defendant bludgeoned a man to death with a cricket bat.”

His lawyer, Wilfredo Sta. Ana, called prosecutors’ argument for bail “very thin on some of the facts detailed.”

“We know something happened between these two men but I don’t think it rises to the level of murder,” the attorney said.

Video showed Ortiz Palacios come down the stairwell from the fifth floor with the bat, the defense lawyer said.

“Something happened between these two men in the stairwell … It’s very clear from the complaint the decedent had the bat. Mr. Springer did not confront the decedent with the bat,” Sta. Ana said. “They have no history of animosity … Their relationship if any is one of casual interactions in and throughout the building.”

The defendant was known to loiter in the building, according to neighbor Robert Skeff.

“He would urinate in the hallway. He would sleep in the stairs,” said Skeff, 63, who described the victim as “like a son.”

Ortiz Palacios’ ex-girlfriend described him as a devoted father of three who worked in construction across the city and was originally from Honduras.

“He loved his children. He was a very giving or loving person to those that he was around,” the ex told the Daily News on Saturday.

Candles placed in memoriam out front of the building where Guillermo Ortiz lived on Frederick Douglas Boulevard.

Rebecca White for New York Daily News

Candles placed in memoriam in front of the building where Guillermo Ortiz lived on Frederick Douglas Blvd. (Rebecca White for New York Daily News)

Springer grew up in the building and lives there with his mother, Sta. Ana said. He works as a street vendor and an off-the-books porter.

“Oftentimes in cases like this, the press canonizes those who are involved in violence at the expense of someone like Mr. Springer, who did not initiate this fight, did not start this fight, and clearly did not want the end result,” the defense lawyer said.

Springer wore a white Tyvek robe and blue slip-ons and stood with his hands cuffed, with a blue mask pulled down over his chin.

“His shoes have been taken, his clothes have been taken and pictures were taken of injuries on his hip as well as his arm and his hands. Mr. Springer has scratches on his body and swelling on his shoulder, head and hands,” Sta. Ana said. “Mr. Springer has maintained he was merely defending himself.”

The judge, Abraham Clott, acknowledged the potential problems with the case against Springer but still ordered him held without bail until his next appearance Thursday, citing his criminal record. That record includes two felonies, one of them violent, and nine misdemeanors, according to the Manhattan DA’s office. He has a recent one-and-a-half to three year sentence for grand larceny in 2021.

“I agree that this case is factually murky for a variety of reasons,” Clott said. “But unfortunately what isn’t murky is that Mr. Springer appears to face a reasonable possibility of substantial incarceratory sentence.”

Asked Sunday whether prosecutors planned to keep pursuing murder charges, a DA spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing.


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