Providence man sentenced to life in prison for murder of ex-girlfriend

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A man accused of murdering a woman in Providence last year pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Tuesday.

In Providence County Superior Court, 37-year-old Derek Sheppard pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and one count of carrying a pistol without a license.

Sheppard now faces life in prison for domestic second-degree murder, plus 10 consecutive years for carrying a pistol without a license.

Sheppard shot 50-year-old Bernadette Ortiz six times, killing her at a home on Harold Street. It happened on Feb. 9, 2022.

The children of Ortiz were emotional in court. Ortiz’s Daughter, India recalled the murder of her mother in front of Superior Court Justice Richard Raspallo.

“No woman deserved to die the way my mom did, you shattered many people’s hearts with this one, there’s no words I can do to make me the way I feel about it any better. I used to call him Pops, we welcomed him into our family,” India said.

“The most painful thing is that we’ll never get our mom back. We will never get that random text from her saying ‘I love you, just checking in,’ nor do we have the perfect words to explain to our brother’s kids and mine on why this happened to our mom,” she continued.

Prosecutor Jonathan Burke said Sheppard was Ortiz’s ex-boyfriend and roommate at the time of the shooting.

On the night of the shooting, Sheppard and Ortiz got into an argument with both of Sheppard’s daughters in the home.

“Jelissa Sheppard, hearing the commotion, ran into Miss Ortiz’s bedroom, upon entering the bedroom, she saw Miss Ortiz on the floor, bleeding from a cut above her eye, she saw [Sheppard] standing a few feet away, point his gun and fire,” Burke said to the courtroom.

Ortiz’s son, Jose, also spoke in front of the court about the love he had for his mother.

“My mom was my best friend,” Jose said. “Even though she was my mom, we spend everyday, morning to night, if I wasn’t at work I was at her house.”

Raspallo called the act senseless, and offered his condolences to the family and friends of Ortiz.

“I hope for the rest of his life, he regrets the actions that he’s taken, he’s going to have a lot of time to think about it,” Raspallo said.

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island