Charles Thomas Ramirez Jr., who was convicted last month of gunning down a 19-year-old changing a tire in a Fullerton alley, was sentenced today to 50 years to life in prison.
This is the case where 36-year-old Ramirez's brother-in-law had told Ramirez that Larry Ruiz and a friend in the alley were not the two men who had previously tried to rob him.
Ramirez blew Ruiz away anyway.
The jury's Dec. 5 verdict of guilty of first-degree murder indicated they did not buy the defense argument that Ramirez acted in self-defense.
Ramirez lived with his sister and her husband Marc Tomas Luna in Fullerton. On the evening of March 17, 2011--yes, St. Patrick's Day--Luna was walking home from a Narcotics Anonymous meeting when two men in a Toyota Camry pulled up and demanded his cell phone.
Luna ran off, dropping his cell phone, and when he arrived home he told Ramirez what had happened. Ramirez said they should go back and retrieve Luna's cell phone. As they walked down an alley near the 110 block of West Williamson Avenue about 9:30 p.m., they saw Ruiz changing a tire on a minivan as a friend watched.
Ramirez confronted the pair, but Luna told him, "Those aren't the guys, the guys who wanted to get my phone were white guys," Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy later told jurors. (Hat tip City News Service's Paul Anderson.)
But Ramirez punched Ruiz and then shot the teen in the head with a .22-caliber gun, according to McGreevy. This is where Ramirez's attorney, Sperry Tavoularis of the Alternate Defender's Office, had tried to argue his client only fired because Ruiz picked up a tire iron.
Luna and Ramirez ran home after the shooting, and Ramirez warned Luna not talk to police, according to the prosecutor.
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An anonymous tip led Fullerton Police to Ramirez, who was found fiddling with something under the hood of a car. A search of the vehicle turned up the murder weapon under the hood.
Luna initially lied to police about the shooting, but he later called investigators and confessed. The 30-year-old, who testified against his brother-in-law at trial, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to two years in prison.
At today's sentencing hearing, Francisco Ruiz, Larry's father, expressed to the judge how much he loved his late son and how he still continues to struggle to understand why this crime occurred, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office.