BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — “Throw the book at them” usually refers to imposing the harshest punishment possibly, but Joseph Orta took the phrase literally at his sentencing hearing earlier this week.
Orta became furious as he was sentenced to multiple life terms in prison and threw a book across the courtroom at a Superior Court judge, prosecutors said. Deputies immediately restrained him and found a razorblade weapon on him similar to what he used to attack an inmate in 2017, prosecutors said.
Orta, 49, is now serving four life terms in prison and faces a fifth at another sentencing hearing scheduled April 26.
According to a District Attorney’s office release, Orta in 2008 in Los Angeles County had a brief affair with his cousin’s wife and then slit her throat. He was convicted of murder.
Since then, Orta has carried out multiple attacks against other inmates housed in Kern County prisons, prosecutors said.
“Some people are so persistently violent that preventing their release from custody must be assured by all legal means,” District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in the release. “Orta is a convicted killer who has only increased his acts of violence while in state prison, and securing multiple, consecutive life-sentences is the best and only means to ensure he cannot endanger communities again.”
In 2017, Orta cut an inmate at California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi with a razorblade attached to a tongue depressor, according to the release. He sliced the inmate’s face open, causing serious injury and permanent scarring. Orta testified at trial he attacked the inmate because he believed he was homosexual.
At Kern Valley State Prison in 2019 Orta stabbed an inmate in the neck with an inmate-manufactured weapon, according to the release. Prison guards intervened and stopped Orta from killing the man, the release said.
In 2022, Orta stabbed another inmate in the neck at Kern Valley State Prison and was again subdued before he could kill him, prosecutors said.