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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

70-year-old man with two murder convictions sentenced to over 31 years in prison for Spokane killing

The Spokane County Courthouse is seen in this August 2020 photo.  (DAN PELLE/The Spokesman-Review)

A 70-year-old man with one previous murder conviction was sentenced to more than 31 years in prison for his most recent killing – the 2022 shooting of Joseph V. Cortez in Spokane.

A Spokane County jury in May found Duarte Cordero guilty of second-degree murder. Superior Court Judge Tony Hazel sentenced Cordero June 28 to 376 months in prison, according to court documents.

The prison term was the high end of an 18- to 26⅓-year standard sentence range. An additional five-year firearm enhancement was tacked on to the 26-year sentence.

Police officers responded to the shooting the night of Aug. 21, 2022, in the area of 1309 W. Shannon Ave., and found Cortez with a gunshot wound next door, court records show. Cortez was taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he died.

Cortez’s girlfriend told police an intoxicated Cordero showed up at the Shannon Avenue address earlier that day.

She said Cordero, who she said wanted to date her, slapped her in the face, and the homeowner, a different woman, told Cordero to leave. As Cordero left, he said, “You just watch, you just watch, you will see,” Cortez’s girlfriend told police.

Cortez’s girlfriend said in documents she was inside the Shannon Avenue home later that night when she heard about three gunshots outside. She ran to the back door where the sounds came from, and a woman ran in through the door yelling, “Puerto Rico has a gun” and “he shot Joey.”

Cordero’s street name is “Puerto Rico,” according to Cortez’s girlfriend.

Detectives found a large blood stain and items, including a drug pipe, flashlights and gloves, dropped outside the Shannon Avenue home where the shooting happened, police said in documents.

Police did not find fired bullet casings at the scene, but a police dog found a pile of nine unfired .32 caliber cartridges against a fence two houses from the Shannon Avenue home.

Officers also discovered video of a man matching Cordero’s description behind a nearby Shannon Avenue home appearing to discard something in the alley. There, police found a pair of gloves, a .32 caliber revolver and 36 more unfired rounds of .32 caliber ammunition, according to court records.

Cordero was convicted in Pierce County in 1990 in the killing of Primitivo Rodrigues, a reputed gang leader, and attempting to kill Floyd Smith Jr. on Sept. 5, 1989, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.