A jury today found a 55-year-old Orange man guilty of murdering his roommate--a U.S. Army veteran who was poised to graduate from Cal State Fullerton--dumping her body in Modjeska Canyon and then acting as if he was surprised as anyone she was missing.
Kwang Chol "K.C." Joy was convicted of second-degree murder in the May 2013 killing of 36-year-old Maribel Manriquez Ramos, an Iraqi War veteran who was about to receive a bachelor's in criminology from Cal State Fullerton.
Questioned by police and the media in the days after Ramos went missing, Joy described her as his best friend and the only family he had. Joy claimed he last saw Ramos outside their Orange apartment on May 2, 2013. Her family reported her missing the following day when she did not show up to gathering tied to her looming graduation. Her body was found May 16, 2013, near Santiago Canyon and Jackson Ranch roads in Modjeska Canyon.
Investigators later learned Ramos had been trying to get Joy to leave their apartment because he was not paying rent. Ironically, she was last seen in surveillance tape going to the rental office to pay rent. It was also discovered she had called 9-1-1 two weeks before she went missing because of strange things Joy told her and that they had been arguing the night before she disappeared.
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Joy's attorney, Adam Vining of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, conceded during the trial that his client killed Ramos in the heat of passion, acted strangely, gave misleading statements to cops and the media and unwittingly pointed searchers to the body. But that, Vining told jurors in his closing argument, was not proof Joy purposely murdered Ramos only that she "died and someone buried her body." Cause of death is unknown because the body was ravaged by animals.
The circumstantial evidence in the case indicated Joy could be just as guilty of voluntary manslaughter, argued Vining, as reported by City News Service's Paul Anderson. But Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons told jurors Joy had done something more sinister, being in love with Ramos, who had a boyfriend, and deciding if Joy could not have her, no one would.
Joy was caught through surveillance at a public library researching how long it takes for a human body to decay and how close a search party would be to the burial site, something the prosecutor dubbed "a virtual drive-by" and "the break" that led searchers to Ramos' body. That, Simmons maintained, proved a "consciousness of guilt" that allowed for conviction of first-degree murder. Jurors obviously split the difference today. Joy is scheduled to return to Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana for sentencing on Sept. 12, when he could get 15 years to life in state prison.