The Murder of Daniel Morales: Three Years Later



Daniel Morales was stabbed outside a Taco Bell on the 1500 block of Flynn Road on Monday, August 31, 2015. Tyler Ostertag, 24, was found guilty of fatally stabbing 16-year-old Daniel Morales in the heart, and now awaits sentencing.

Daniel Morales, a former student at Cam High, was murdered in Aug. of 2015, and the assailant has been officially sentenced to 72 years in prison as of May 10.

Morales was 16 when a conflict erupted at the Taco Bell off of Adolfo road. The conflict involved Morales and Tyler Ostertag, and it escalated into a fight. Ostertag later pleaded innocent during his trial, but he was found guilty in April.

Though the trial seemed to have arrived at a definitive conclusion, Ostertag’s attorney Danielle De Smeth continued to try to prove his innocence. One of the main controversies of the trial, and what took the sentencing so long, was who the actual victim was.

De Smeth argued that Ostertag had killed Morales in an act of self-defense because of video evidence and witness testimonies stating that Morales was also armed with either a baton or metal rod when the fight broke out. De Smeth thought there was more to the case than a simple one-on-one conflict, citing that both men had long histories of violence. However, this did not exonerate Ostertag, since the jurors were aware of his criminal record, which included previous convictions.

The biggest problem in the case of defending Ostertag would be the events that followed the murder. Afterwards, Ostertag had been “indicted on suspicion of trying to dissuade a witness from reporting the crime,” which weakened his defense.

Even three years after the conflict, Camarillo is still experiencing the impact. Despite whatever justice can be served, the families of Ostertag and Morales have experienced loss. As De Smeth said, “There are no winners in this case.”