Man Gets Death Sentence In '83 Garden Grove Rape, Murder

SANTA ANA (CNS/FOX 11) - A death sentence was handed down Friday for a 55-year-old man who raped and killed a young woman in Garden Grove more than 30 years ago.

It was the second capital punishment sentence for Richard Raymond Ramirez, who was convicted in March 1985 of first-degree murder, with jurors finding true special circumstance allegations of killing during a rape and sodomy, in the Nov. 21, 1983, killing of 22-year-old Kim Gonzalez.

Ramirez was first sentenced to death in July 1985, but a federal judge overturned the conviction because the jury foreman failed to notify the court that he had applied for a job with the FBI -- a position for which he was hired months after the trial.

The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and rape in a May 2013 retrial, but jurors deadlocked on what punishment to recommend. Another jury recommended two months ago that he put to death.

Before Ramirez killed Gonzalez, he was prosecuted as a juvenile for raping a single mother at knifepoint in her home, although he was 18 at the time of the crime. Ramirez was sent to the California Youth Authority for raping the victim multiple times in her apartment in Merced in October 1977 while her baby slept in the next room.

Ramirez was caught hours later because the woman recognized him from an encounter a day or two earlier, when he ``bummed'' a cigarette from her in the apartment complex, Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin said.

Gonzalez, who lived in Cerritos, met Ramirez at Mr. Barry's in Garden Grove. The two spent time together dancing, playing pool and kissing before leaving together. Her nearly naked, bloody body was found the next morning in a "dirty, filthy walkway,'' Yellen said.

The principal evidence against Ramirez in the first trial was a matching fingerprint on a Budweiser bottle left in the alley. Ramirez, in the first trial, testified he did not kill the victim. But in his retrial, his guilt was conceded by attorneys who acknowledged that new technology allowed investigators to make a DNA match between the defendant and Gonzalez.

Mick Hill of the Orange County Public Defender's Office told jurors there was no excuse for his client's crimes, but asked them to consider Ramirez's dysfunctional upbringing at the hands of an alcoholic, combat-scarred father, who saw action on the front lines in the Korean War.

Ramirez dropped out of school in the eighth grade because he could not read, got hooked on heroin at 13 and then started sniffing glue, Hill said.

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