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Drug dealer convicted of 2nd degree murder in Bayview beating death

A San Francisco police vehicle sits in the Mission Police Station on May 25, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

A drug dealer was convicted of second-degree murder for beating someone to death in the Bayview two years ago, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Jurors reached a verdict on Thursday against Byron Reed, 47, in the 2020 killing of Paul Ortega, 58.

Officials say the murder happened in the early morning hours of July 23, 2020, after Ortega interrupted a drug sale Reed was conducting on Jennings Street. After an initial confrontation, the two men separated, according to police. Then, Reed returned to the scene and started fighting with Ortega. 

The second encounter escalated into a fistfight in which Reed quickly overpowered Ortega, according to prosecutors. 

“As Ortega lay on his back in the street, Reed repeatedly kicked and stomped Ortega’s face and neck, before lifting his limp body and slamming his head against the asphalt, killing him,” a news release from the District Attorney’s Office states. “Reed left the scene, leaving Ortega face down on the street to die.”

It took more than a year for San Francisco police to arrest Reed, who was taken into custody on Sept. 10, 2021, after a high-speed car chase that took police from Potrero Hill, across the Bay Bridge to Oakland and back again.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins applauded the jury’s decision, saying it sends “a clear message that brutal acts of violence will not be tolerated in San Francisco. 

“Reed is being held accountable for his extreme violence and shocking disregard for Ortega’s life,” she continued. “Ortega did not have to die on the street as he did. We will always stand with the victim’s family and communities impacted by violence and seek justice.”

Assistant District Attorney Aaron Laycook led the prosecution, which the DA’s Office says was built on “diligent investigation work” by the SFPD Homicide Detail. 

“Paul Ortega’s death is a terrible loss to his family and friends,” Laycook said. “And while I know nothing that happens in our courtrooms can bring Mr. Ortega back, I am hopeful that the jury’s decision today will bring them some sense of justice and closure.”

A sentencing date has yet to be set.

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