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David Martinez RAMIREZ





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: May 25, 1989
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: April 7, 1957
Victims profile: Mary Gortarez and her daughter, Candie Gortarez, 15
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on December 18, 1990

Date of Birth: April 7, 1957
Defendant: Hispanic
Victims: Hispanic

During the early morning hours of May 25, 1989, David Ramirez, a parolee, murdered Mary Gortarez and her 15-year-old daughter, Candie Gortarez in their Phoenix apartment.

He stabbed Mary 18 times in the neck, in the back, in the stomach, and in the left eye. He stabbed Candie 15 times in the neck area. Neither Mary nor Candie died instantaneously.

Neighbors heard sounds of a violent struggle for about half an hour coming from the apartment and when police entered it they found blood smeared and spattered throughout.

Ramirez also sexually assaulted Candie Gortarez while she was close to death.

Ramirez, the only person alive in the apartment, was arrested at the scene. Ramirez was convicted of both murders.


    Presiding Judge: Thomas W. O'Toole
    Prosecutor: Louis Stalzer
    Start of Trial: July 10, 1990
    Verdict:  July 27, 1990
    Sentencing: December 18, 1990

Aggravating Circumstances:

    Prior conviction involving violence
    Especially heinous/cruel/depraved
    Multiple homicides

Mitigating Circumstances:

    Ability to conform conduct to requirements of law impaired
    Unstable family background
    Poor educational experience
    Victim of sexual abuse
    Gang affiliation
    Substance abuse
    Psychological history
    Love of family


    State v. Ramirez, 178 Ariz. 116, 871 P.2d 237 (1994)



State v. Ramirez, 178 Ariz. 116, 871 P.2d 237 (1994)


Defendant was convicted in Superior Court (Maricopa) of two counts of premeditated, first-degree murder, and sentenced to death. This is defendant's automatic, direct appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.


(F)(2) (Prior Violent Felony) - UPHELD
The defendant's prior convictions were for aggravated assault and robbery. The Court examined the statutes under which the defendant was convicted and found that the specific subsections of the statutes necessarily involved violence or the threat of violence to another. In State v. Fierro, 166 Ariz. 539, 804 P.2d 72 (1990), the Court held that a conviction for aggravated assault under A.R.S. 13-1203 and 13-1204 did not qualify as an aggravating factor because it was possible to commit the crime without the use or threat of violence. Here, the state avoided that problem by proving the specific subsections that applied, and those subsections necessarily involved violence. The robbery statute also necessarily involved the use or threat of violence.

(F)(6) (Heinous, Cruel or Depraved) - UPHELD

Cruel: Upheld.
Mental Anguish: Found. The Court found that the victims experienced great pain and suffering over a prolonged period of time. Neighbors heard "banging, screaming, cries for help, and running noises" for twenty to thirty minutes. 178 Ariz. at 129. Blood and murder weapons were scattered throughout the apartment. The victims were conscious during repeated stabbings. Each victim was stabbed fifteen to twenty times. Each victim was aware of the other victim's suffering. Victim, Mrs. G., had defensive wounds from the struggle. Under these facts, the Court found that F(6), "especially cruel," applied to both murder counts.
Physical Pain: Found. See Mental Anguish.
Knew or Reason to Know that Victim Would Suffer: The Court found the victim's suffering to be inescapably foreseeable to defendant.

Heinous or Depraved: Not addressed.

(F)(8) (Multiple Homicides) - UPHELD
The defendant was convicted of stabbing a female acquaintance and her fifteen-year-old daughter to death. Citing State v. Lavers, 168 Ariz. 376, 814 P.2d 333 (1991), the Court said that it analyzes the temporal, spatial, and motivational relationships between the capital homicide and the collateral [homicide], as well as the nature of that [homicide] and the identify of its victim to determine if one murder was committed during the course of another. In this case, the Court said the murders occurred in same place, resulted from the same disturbance, and were committed in a relatively short period of time in what can be fairly viewed as one continuous course of criminal conduct. The trial court misstated the law by saying that the factor supports the death sentence on either conviction. The Court noted that the factor, once proven, applies to each conviction.


The Court found that the following mitigating circumstances existed, but were insufficiently substantial to call for leniency:

(G)(1) Significant Impairment
Difficult Childhood/Family History [including gang affiliation]
Lack of Education
Psychological history
Chronic substance abuse
Family Ties

The Court found the defendant failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the existence of the following as mitigating circumstances:

Model Prisoner
Residual Doubt


Convictions and sentences affirmed.


David Martinez Ramirez



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