Defendant sentenced to time served in Dutchess County high school student's killing
The man who killed a Dutchess County high school student was sentenced Wednesday at the Dutchess County Courthouse in Poughkeepsie.
Nestor Ortiz-Ocampo, 20, was sentenced to one year and was fined $1,000 for criminal possession of a weapon as a youthful offender conviction.
At a sentencing hearing Wednesday in Dutchess County Court, prosecutors and the judge shared kind words about Quraan Smith. The 16-year-old was stabbed to death after an Arlington High School football game in September 2021.
"By all accounts, he was a funny, kind kid with a bright future," Assistant District Attorney Andrea Long told the court.
The praise did little in the moment to console Quraan's parents and his aunts who were in attendance. They feel they did not receive justice.
After an investigation by the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office, Nestor Ortiz-Ocampo was charged in November 2021 with second-degree Murder, first-degree manslaughter and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
A jury acquitted Ortiz-Ocampo of the murder and manslaughter charges and convicted him on the weapons charge.
Since he had already been in jail for well over a year and the maximum jail sentence for the weapon charge is one year, Ortiz-Ocampo was freed following the August trial.
Judge Jessica Segal sentenced Ortiz-Ocampo Wednesday to the maximum one year and a fine of $1,000.
Ortiz-Ocampo remains free because of time served.
"The community is saddened," Everton Smith, Quraan's father, told News 12 after the sentencing hearing. "Someone's life was taken at school."
Based on several video clips of the post-game brawl shown during the trial, the defense and prosecution told different stories: The prosecution said Nestor Ortiz-Ocampo "walked with purpose" into the parking lot to kill Quraan Smith. The defense maintained Ortiz-Ocampo was trying to escape the fighting when Smith crossed into Ortiz-Ocampo's path, forcing Ortiz-Ocampo to defend himself.
Na'tara Smith, Quraan's mother, recounted to the court in her victim impact statement the moment she learned at the hospital that her son had been stabbed.
"He had no idea that knife was going to pierce him the way it did," she said tearfully. "The system failed my son."
"Every day, it's like the same day," Everton Smith said after the sentencing. "I can't get over it. Loss of words. Loss of words."
Having originally planned to stay silent on his attorney's advice, Ortiz-Ocampo stood and addressed the court after a nudge by the judge.
"I'm deeply sorry, but I didn't want to say anything because ... I thought it would make the family angrier," Ortiz-Ocampo said. "I am very sorry for Quraan Smith's family."
Prosecutors questioned Ortiz-Ocampo's sincerity.
"Who brings a steak knife to a football game?" Long said, adding that although Ortiz-Ocampo was found not guilty of both murder and manslaughter, the verdict was not an exoneration. "Make no mistake. Nestor Ortiz-Ocampo killed Quraan Smith."
Long also said her office had received information indicating that within a week of the verdict Ortiz-Ocampo may have posted nasty remarks on social media about Quraan Smith and his friends.
Out of caution, the judge issued an order barring Ortiz-Ocampo from having any contact with the Smith family and the 11 younger trial witnesses.
Asked for comment on his way out of the courthouse, Ortiz-Ocampo responded, "I'm good," just before a car arrived on Main Street to pick him up.
Quraan Smith's parents told the court about Quraan's devotion to his friends, his great work at school and at sports, and how the family has been affected the last two years.
Na'tara Smith shared how Quraan's younger cousin is "fighting and struggling to graduate [high school] this year" after the toll Quraan's death took on him.
"I can't put the words together. I'm lost. I'm lost," Everton Smith said.
The Smith family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in May naming several defendants including Ortiz-Ocampo, the Arlington Central School District and the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office.