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Jury Deliberating After Man Accused Of Kidnapping Daughter Takes Stand

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The fate of a man charged with kidnapping his own daughter and causing a lengthy standoff after a custody dispute is now in the hands of a jury.

But before closing arguments, the jury heard from the defendant.

Tex Ortiz is accused of taking his daughter to Altoona a week before Christmas.

The issue had been the custody of his then-2-year-old daughter, Jaleeyah.

Ortiz claimed he was never given formal notice that he did not have custody of his daughter, and that fear of an increasingly hostile relationship with the family of the girl's deceased mother drove him to flee.

"If I had notice that I had to go to court 'cause somebody was going to take my daughter from me, I would have been the first one there," testified Ortiz.

Ortiz was wearing an ankle bracelet from an unrelated case but admitted he cut it.

"I knew ultimately cutting the ankle bracelet off would get me in trouble. But I wanted to go somewhere safe and remove my daughter from the situation," he testified.

He ended up in Altoona and a SWAT team was in place to end the situation if necessary.

The prosecution played tape recordings of his calls to his relatives from the Allegheny County Jail.

In one call dated Jan. 9, 2015, he admitted he panicked:
"At the end of the day, I did, I did. I don't know; I just did what I felt I had to do. You know, it kinda, it was the wrong thing. I know I could have done it a better way. But I kind of panicked, you know what I'm saying, but I was just thinking about my other kids and everything I've lost. You know what I'm saying?"

Closing arguments finished up this afternoon and the jury is now deliberating.

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