Man sentenced for killing pregnant girlfriend appeals conviction

Israel Ordonez-Calixto

GOSHEN — An Elkhart man who was sentenced to 75 years in prison for the August 2016 murder of his pregnant girlfriend is appealing his conviction.

Israel Ordonez-Calixto, 32, pleaded guilty in March 2017 to stabbing 20-year-old Savanna Best inside the apartment they shared in the 500 block of K Lane at Old Farm Apartments in Elkhart. Authorities believe she died on or around Aug. 12, just before Ordonez left on a three-day road trip with a friend, to whom he confessed and who later alerted police.

The terms of the plea agreement included 10 years in prison for ending Best’s 6- to 8-month-old pregnancy, and it was left up to Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno how long Ordonez would be sentenced for the murder itself. Christofeno sentenced him in April 2017 to the maximum 65-year term for murder in addition to that 10-year enhancement.

Ordonez filed his appeal in January from the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, claiming that he suffered from ineffective assistance of trial counsel because of a double enhancement in his final sentencing. He also claims that the counts of murder and ending a pregnancy were enhanced using the exact same evidence, constituting a double enhancement or double jeopardy.

The Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office responded in a February court filing that he failed to state a valid claim, that his conviction and sentence were appropriate under the law and that his petition has no merit. The response also points out that he waived his right to appeal and didn’t raise these issues in court.

A state public defender was appointed for Ordonez and a hearing on his petition for post conviction relief is expected to be scheduled soon.

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