Ramirez was convicted of fatally shooting a San Angelo firefighter
in 1998, the climax of a murder-for-hire scheme he initiated.
The victim, Nemecio Nandin had been dating Ramirez's ex-wife. He
remained obsessed with his ex-wife some two years after a 1995
Working with accomplice Edward Bell, Nandin was lured to a house
near Tennyson, about 25 miles northeast of San Angelo, under the
pretense of repair job. Nandin had a side job as an appliance
Nandin was handcuffed, taken to a chicken coop, shot twice with a
shotgun and then buried on the rural property. The body was found
there more than a week later, after Nandin had been reported missing
when he failed to show up for work.
An informant told police Ramirez had offered him $1,000 to
participate in the killing but that money instead was paid to Edward
Bell, who later was arrested in Tyler.
Inside Bell's wallet were Ramirez's business card, a hand-drawn map
to the home of Ramirez's ex-wife, a description of her vehicle and
license plate number, all in Ramirez's handwriting. Also in Bell's
vehicle was a pair of jeans covered with Nandin's blood. Bell's
girlfriend took detectives to a spot where she said Bell tossed a
pair of latex gloves. They found a glove and the keys to Nandin's
Bell was convicted and received a life prison term. Ramirez got
death. Ramirez has maiintained his innocence.
Ramirez v. Dretke, 398 F.3d 691 (5th Cir.) (Habeas)
"I did not kill your loved one. I wish I could tell you the reason
why or give you some kind of solace. You lost someone you love very
much, the same as my family and friends are going to lose in a few
minutes. I am sure he died unjustly, just like I am. I did not
murder him. I did not have anything to do with his death. It's OK.
It's all right. I'm not afraid.''
Texas Department of Criminal
Inmate: Ramirez, Luis
Date of Birth: 06/19/63
Date Received: 05/18/99
Education: 12th Grade
Date of Offense: 04/08/1998
County of Conviction: Tom Green County
Hair Color: Black
Height: 5 ft 05 in
Eye Color: Brown
Co-Defendant: Edward Bell
Texas Attorney General
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Luis Ramirez Scheduled For Execution
AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
offers the following information about Luis Ramirez, who is
scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. Thursday, October 20, 2005.
The 42-year-old Ramirez was sentenced to death for the 1998 capital
murder of Nemecio Nandin in Miles, Texas. A summary of the evidence
presented at trial follows:
FACTS OF THE CRIME
Luis and Dawn Ramirez divorced in late 1995, and
two years later, Mrs. Ramirez began dating Nemecio Nandin, a fireman
who operated a small side business repairing washers and dryers. The
relationship angered Luis Ramirez, who was repeatedly heard
threatening to harm Nandin. A few days before Nandin was murdered,
Ramirez was spotted meeting with Edward Bell, and at about the same
time, Bell told a friend that he had been hired to kill a fireman
for a thousand dollars.
On April 8, 1998, Bell, alone in a home in Miles,
phoned Nandin to ask for service on a broken dryer. When Nandin
arrived at the residence, he was handcuffed, taken to a chicken coop
on the property and shot in the head with a shotgun from the house.
Nandin’s body was buried in a shallow grave on the property. Ramirez
was at the house either before Nandin arrived or shortly thereafter.
Later that evening, Bell and his girlfriend drove
back to the residence where the murder occurred. Along the way, Bell
threw a pair of yellow latex cleaning gloves out the car window.
Bell later fled to Tyler, Texas.
Following discovery of Nandin’s body and Bell’s
arrest in Tyler, investigators searched the vehicle Bell was driving
and found his wallet, which contained one of Ramirez’s business
cards, a hand drawn map to Dawn Ramirez’s home, a description of her
vehicle, and her license plate number all of which was in Luis
Ramirez’s handwriting and a pair of jeans covered in Nandin’s blood.
Bell’s girlfriend also led investigators to the location where Bell
had disposed of the rubber gloves the day of the murder. There,
investigators found one glove and Nandin’s truck keys. Witness
testimony established that Nandin had paid Bell for his assistance
in several small amounts.
June 4, 1998 – Ramirez was indicted for the
capital offense of solicitation of capital murder.
May 7, 1999 – Ramirez was convicted of capital murder.
May 14, 1999 – Ramirez was sentenced to death.
March 14, 2001 – Ramirez filed his original application for writ of
habeas corpus in the state trial court.
February 13, 2002 – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed
Ramirez’s conviction & sentence.
June 10, 2002 – The state trial court recommended that habeas relief
October 23, 2002 – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas
March 27, 2003 – Ramirez filed a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus in a U.S. district court.
February 10, 2004 – The federal district court denied habeas corpus
March 9, 2004 – Ramirez filed a motion for a certificate of
appealability (COA) in a U.S. district court.
March 11, 2004 – The federal district court denied Ramirez’s request
for a COA.
July 16, 2004 – Ramirez filed a motion for a COA in the 5th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals.
January 27, 2005 – The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Ramirez’s
request for a COA.
April 27, 2005 – Ramirez filed a petition for writ of certiorari in
the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oct. 3, 2005 -- The Supreme Court denied the petition.
October 20, 2005 – Ramirez’s scheduled execution date
During the punishment phase of Luis Ramirez’s
trial, witnesses told the jury that Ramirez and Bell had repeatedly
discussed killing Dawn Ramirez and threatened her in writing.
Ramirez told the jury that her former husband got angry when she
became pregnant, that he verbally abused her, physically abused her,
sexually assaulted her, and isolated her from her parents.
told the jury that Ramirez’s threats against her life continued even
after the couple separated. Ramirez’s first ex-wife also told the
jury that Ramirez was physically abusive towards her.
Mrs. Ramirez told the jury that ex-husband destroyed her car in
order to collect insurance money, “trashed” a house she was trying
to sell, and thought of his guns as toys.
Other witnesses also told the jury that Luis
Ramirez wanted to kill his former wife’s uncle and had begun to plan
the crime, that he had slashed the tires on the car of one man Mrs.
Ramirez had dated, and that he had threatened another man who was
acquainted with her through work.
Luis Ramirez was convicted of capital murder and
sentenced to death for the murder of his ex-wife’s boyfriend,
Nemecio Nandin. Nemicio Nandin was a fireman and part-time washer/dryer
repairman who was dating Ramirez’s ex-wife.
Ramirez had been jealous
of any of his ex-wife’s boyfriends, and Ramirez’s daughter testified
that Ramirez was visibly upset about his ex-wife’s relationship with
Days before Nandin’s murder, Ramirez was seen
meeting with an associate, Edward Bell, at a house where Bell and
his girlfriend had previously lived. At around the same time, Bell
told the man at whose home he was then staying that Ramirez had
hired him to kill a fireman for $1,000.
Nandin was killed at the
house where Bell formerly lived on April 8, 1998, shot twice in the
head with a shotgun and buried on the property.
His truck was later discovered at a local Wal-Mart.
Bell’s girlfriend testified that she left Bell alone, without a car,
at the murder scene house between 11 A.M. and noon on the day of the
murder, and that Ramirez dropped Bell off at the girlfriend's aunt’s
house between 3:30 and 4 P.M. that afternoon.
As she drove Bell back
from her aunt’s house back to the murder scene later that afternoon,
she saw Bell throw two latex gloves out of the car window. Police
later recovered the gloves and a set of keys fitting Nandin’s truck.
A subsequent search of Bell's girlfriend’s car
revealed Bell’s wallet, containing two of Ramirez’s business cards
and handwritten notes including directions to Ramirez's ex-wife's
house, her address, her uncle’s address, and descriptions of her and
her uncle’s cars. Police also discovered in the car a pair of jeans
and a glove spattered with Nandin’s blood.
Shortly after the murder, but before his arrest,
Bell described the murder to the man he was staying with. Bell told
the man that he and Ramirez had gone to the house where the murder
occurred, called Nandin for a washer repair, handcuffed Nandin when
he arrived and shot him with a shotgun, burying him on the property.
Testimony indicated that Ramirez had purchased the same brand of
handcuffs years earlier.
The state also introduced evidence suggesting a
plausible timeline, a period of time in which Ramirez could have
been with Bell at the murder scene, committing the murder. Ramirez’s
girlfriend testified that on the day of the murder Ramirez had
packed a bag and left his home between 12:30 and 1:00 P.M. and
returned around 3:00 or 3:30 P.M.
Finally, the state introduced evidence that
Ramirez and Bell were seen together after the murder and that on at
least one occasion Bell, who had no apparent means of support,
returned from such a meeting with cash.
Luis Ramirez, 42, was executed by lethal injection
on 20 October 2005 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder-for-hire of a
On 8 April 1999, Edward Bell, 37, phoned Nemicio
Nandin, a San Angelo fireman who had a part-time job as a washer and
dryer repairman, to come to his house in Tom Green county to repair
a broken dryer. When Nandin arrived at the residence, Bell placed
him in handcuffs and took him to a chicken coop on the property.
Bell then shot Nandin in the head twice with a shotgun.
burying the victim's body in a shallow grave, Bell drove Nandin's
truck to a local store and left it there. When Nandin failed to show
up for work, he was reported missing. His body was found on 17 April.
The house where the murder took place was owned by Lana Riordan, but
Bell and his girlfriend, Lisa McDowell, had previously lived there.
Bell was arrested in Tyler.
The car Bell was driving belonged to McDowell. In
it, investigators found a pair of jeans covered in blood. In Bell's
wallet, they found a business card belonging to Luis Ramirez, then
34. They also found a hand-drawn map to Ramirez's ex-wife's home, a
description of her vehicle, and her license plate number.
Lisa McDowell told investigators that on the day of the murder, she
dropped Bell off at the Riordan house between 11:00 a.m. and noon.
Later, between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m., she picked Bell up at her aunt's
house and drove him back to the Riordan house.
On that trip,
McDowell saw Bell throw two latex gloves out of the car window. She
led police to the location where Bell disposed of the evidence.
There, police recovered one glove and Nandin's truck keys.
An informant told police that Luis Ramirez had
offered him $1,000 to kill Nandin, but that Bell was hired instead.
Luis and Dawn Ramirez divorced in 1995 after
eight years of marriage. Trial testimony indicated that Luis was
still jealous over Dawn, who began dating Nandin in 1997.
Luis Ramirez was charged with hiring Nandin's
murder. At his trial, Timothy Hoogstra testified that a few days
before the killing, Edward Bell told him that Ramirez had hired him
to kill a fireman for $1,000.
Hoogstra also testified that after the
murder, Bell told him that he and Ramirez went to the house, called
Nandin for a repair, and then handcuffed and shot him.
sentencing hearing, Dawn Ramirez testified that her husband verbally,
physically, and sexually abused her and threatened her after they
separated. Another ex-wife testified that he abused her as well. The
state also presented evidence that Ramirez once slashed the tires of
another man Dawn had dated, and that he had threatened one of her
A jury convicted Ramirez of capital murder in
1999 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
affirmed the conviction and sentence in February 2002. All of his
subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Edward Bell was convicted of capital murder and
sentenced to life in prison. "I didn't do this," Ramirez told a
reporter in an interview the week before his execution. "I have no
idea who did. I didn't even have a parking ticket on my record."
Ramirez said that he was seventy miles away at the time of the
murder, checking on some property.
On a web site, Ramirez stated that he worked for
a mortgage company and was in Brady, Texas doing a "lot evaluation"
on the day that Nandin was murdered. He stated that the owner of the
property, Pat Raby, could have corroborated his alibi, but she was
not called to testify at his trial.
Although Raby was called to
testify at an evidentiary hearing in 2001, Ramirez wrote, "the DA
was able to trip her up" and discredit her testimony because three
years had passed and she had forgotten some details. "The case
against me is entirely circumstantial," the web site read. "It lacks
all basic proof. There is no physical evidence. No Scientific
evidence. No DNA. No witnesses. And no murder weapon. My conviction
is based solely on the testimony of Tim Hoogstre, a police paid
informant ... A rumor, Hoogstra had no first hand knowledge of the
crime. Bell was never called to testify. Nor has he ever given a
statement to corroborate Hoogstra's testimony."
"I did not kill your loved one," Ramirez told
Nandin's siblings in his last statement at his execution. "I wish I
could tell you the reason why or give you some kind of solace. You
lost someone you love very much, the same as my family and friends
are going to lose in a few minutes. I am sure he died unjustly, just
like I am. I did not murder him. I did not have anything to do with
his death." After his last statement, the lethal injection was
started. Ramirez was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m.
National Coalition to Abolish
The Death Penalty
TEXAS - Luis Ramirez - Oct. 20, 2005
On Oct. 20, 2005 Luis Ramirez, a Hispanic man,
will be executed for hiring Edward Bell to kill 19-year-old Nemicio
Nandin, another Hispanic man, on April 8, 1998. Ramirez’s conviction
is largely based on the testimony of Tim Hoogstra who claims that
Bell informed him of the murder and of Ramirez’s role in the murder.
Nandin was dating Ramirez’s ex-wife, Dawn Holquin, at the time of
Ramirez’s attempts to appeal his conviction and
sentence have been halted by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). Under the AEDPA, Ramirez must obtain a
Certificate of Appealability in order to appeal a denial of his
Federal courts are required by the AEDPA to give
deference to the lower court in considering habeas petitions.
Additionally, under the AEDPA Ramirez must prove to the Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals that the lower court’s ruling was
Effectively, the AEDPA requires that Ramirez prove to
the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the lower court, to which
the United States Court of Appeals is required to give deference,
ruled unreasonably. Naturally, Ramirez has been unable to overcome
this burden of proof.
Ramirez also has been denied the opportunity to
confront Edward Bell in person, although Bell’s out-of-court
statements to Hoogstra, implicating Ramirez in the murder, were
admitted in court. This denial violates Ramirez’s Sixth Amendment
right to confront his accuser.
Finally, a potential alibi witness for Ramirez
was not heard at trial. Ramirez contends that this constitutes a
failure on the part of his court-appointed trial counsel. Ramirez
holds that he informed Rios of the existence of a possible alibi.
Unfortunately such a contention becomes a question of Ramirez’s word
versus his trial lawyer’s. Under Texas law the state court may
choose to disbelieve Ramirez without any further proof than his
former attorney’s claim of competence.
Please contact Gov. Rick Perry to ask him to stop
the execution of Luis Ramirez.
Ramirez put to death
He claimed he was innocent
of killing firefighter
By Paul A. Anthony -
San Angelo Standard Times
October 21, 2005
HUNTSVILLE - Protesting his innocence until the
end, Luis Ramirez was put to death Thursday night for the 1998
murder of San Angelo firefighter Nemecio Nandin.
Ramirez, 42, remained calm as he made a final
statement and finished by telling an attending physician he was
ready for the lethal injection to be administered. ''I did not kill
your loved one,'' Ramirez told Nandin's family - three sisters and
two brothers - as one of the sisters shook her head. ''I hope that
one day you find out who did. ... You lost someone you loved very
much - the same as my family and loved ones are going to lose in a
few minutes. ''I am sure he died unjustly,'' Ramirez continued, ''just
as I am.'' After telling his family he loved them and giving the OK
for the lethal dose, Ramirez lay still, smiling and telling his
chosen witnesses: ''It's OK. It's all right. I'm not afraid.''
Among Ramirez's three witnesses was Michael
Pfeifer, bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Angelo, listed as
a friend. The lethal dose was administered at 6:10 p.m. Eight
minutes later, Ramirez was pronounced dead.
Ramirez was convicted in 1999 of orchestrating
Nandin's murder because the firefighter was dating Ramirez's
ex-wife. Prosecutors during the two-week trial built their case that
Ramirez had threatened some of his ex-wife's previous boyfriends and
that he had been asking about her relationship with Nandin, 19, the
weekend before the murder. Nandin was found a week after his death,
buried in a shallow grave in rural Tom Green County, near Tennyson.
Prosecutors alleged Ramirez and Edward Bell lured
Nandin to a house there by asking the part-time repairman to fix a
washer. The men then handcuffed him, led him to a hole they already
had dug and shot him twice with a shotgun. Evidence was found
linking Bell, who received a life sentence, to both the killing and
Ramirez, and an informant testified that Ramirez paid Bell to kill
Nevertheless, Ramirez had claimed innocence,
arguing in turn that his court-appointed attorneys were incompetent,
that he was dozens of miles away at the time of the shooting and
that he was convicted based on testimony no longer allowed in court.
''I didn't do this,'' he told The Associated Press in a death-row
interview. ''I have no idea who did.''
Ramirez had previously
declined a request from the Standard-Times for an interview from
death row. Appeals courts have rejected his arguments - the final
denials coming from federal courts Thursday morning - and
prosecutors have said that although they believe Ramirez pulled the
trigger, his location at the time is irrelevant because he
orchestrated the killing.
On Thursday, a handful of protesters stood at the
end of the block on which the historic Huntsville ''Walls'' unit of
the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is located - yellow police
tape and a sheriff's deputy barring them from coming closer. As with
all executions performed in Texas, Ramirez was killed in the
historic, imposing red-brick building, constructed in 1848.
execution was the first of a San Angelo resident conducted by the
state in more than 30 years. In 2003, Louis Jones was executed by
the federal government for the murder of Tracie McBride, an airman
at Goodfellow Air Force Base.
Tom Green County District Attorney Steve Lupton
and first assistant Bryan Clayton each said they have no doubt
Ramirez deserved his end. ''What amazes me is that someone who's
about to meet his maker lies until the very end,'' Clayton said. ''It
underscores what a dangerous person he was.''
Ramirez reportedly was upbeat during his last day,
requesting nothing for a last meal. He spent much of his final days
talking to visitors. About 30 minutes after the execution, Nandin's
brother, Able Nandin, delivered a statement on behalf of the family,
telling reporters they attended ''to make sure justice was done.''
''To my brother, Nemecio,'' Able Nandin continued, ''justice was
done. We love you.''
San Angelo man put to death
By Tori Brock - The Huntsville Item
October 21, 2005
Until the very end, Luis Ramirez professed
innocence for the crime he was put to death for Thursday night
inside the Huntsville “Walls” Unit. Ramirez was convicted for hiring
a hitman to kill his ex-wife's new love interest, Nemecio Nandin, a
San Angelo firefighter.
Authorities believed Ramirez, working with a
hitman, Edward Bell, lured Nandin to a rural area under the pretense
of a repair job. Nandin had a side job as an appliance repairman.
Evidence showed Nandin was handcuffed, taken to a chicken coop, shot
twice with a shotgun and buried. His body was found more than a week
Before the lethal dose began to flow, Ramirez
looked to his victim's family. “I did not kill your loved one, but I
hope that one day you find out who did,” Ramirez told four siblings
of Nemecio Nandin. “I wish I could tell you the reason why or give
some kind of solace. You lost someone you love very much, the same
as my family and friends are going to lose in a few minutes. “I am
sure he died unjustly, just like I am. I did not murder him. I did
not have anything to do with his death.”
As the drugs began to flow, Ramirez told his
family he loved them, then gasped several times. He was pronounced
dead at 6:18 p.m.
Inmate executed for 1998 slaying
By Michael Graczyk -
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Associated Press - Fri, Oct. 21, 2005
HUNTSVILLE - Professing his innocence, Luis
Ramirez was executed Thursday night for organizing and carrying out
what authorities said was a murder-for-hire scheme that culminated
with the shotgun slaying of a San Angelo firefighter who was dating
"I did not kill your loved one, but I hope that
one day you find out who did," Ramirez told four siblings of Nemecio
Nandin. "I wish I could tell you the reason why or give some kind of
solace. You lost someone you love very much, the same as my family
and friends are going to lose in a few minutes. "I am sure he died
unjustly, just like I am. I did not murder him. I did not have
anything to do with his death."
Ramirez turned toward a couple of
friends he selected to watch him die and told them he loved them. "Even
though I die, that love for you will never die," he said. As the
drugs began flowing into his arms, Ramirez told witnesses that "it's
OK. It's all right. I'm not afraid." He gasped several times and
eight minutes later at 6:18 p.m. he was pronounced dead.
Ramirez, 42, denied any involvement in the 1998
murder of Nandin, 29, whose body was found in a shallow grave in a
rural area about 25 miles northeast of San Angelo. Ramirez was the
15th prisoner executed this year in the nation's most active capital
"We just wanted to know justice would be done,"
Able Nandin, the victim's brother, said after watching the execution.
"Justice was done." Addressing his slain brother by name, he added,
"We miss you and we love you."
Prosecutors described Ramirez as a jealous ex-husband,
so obsessed with his former wife that he paid $1,000 to an
accomplice to help with the plot that resulted in Nandin's death.
Killer denies guilt before his execution
Associated Press - Oct. 20, 2005
HUNTSVILLE - Professing his innocence, Luis
Ramirez was executed Thursday night for organizing and carrying out
what authorities said was a murder-for-hire scheme that culminated
in the shotgun slaying of a San Angelo firefighter who was dating
"I did not kill your loved one, but I hope that
one day you find out who did," Ramirez told four siblings of Nemecio
Nandin. "I wish I could tell you the reason why or give some kind of
solace. You lost someone you love very much, the same as my family
and friends are going to lose in a few minutes." Ramirez was
pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m.
Ramirez, 42, denied any involvement in the 1998
murder of Nandin, 29, whose body was found in a shallow grave in a
rural area about 25 miles northeast of San Angelo.
Texas man executed for 1998 murder plot
Oct 20, 2005
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas man was put
to death by injection on Thursday for paying for the 1998 murder of
his ex-wife's boyfriend.
Luis Ramirez, 42, was condemned for hiring a man
to murder Nemecio Nandin, 29, at a house in Miles, Texas, on April
8, 1998. Ramirez had said he had nothing to do with the murder and
was working 70 miles away when Nandin was killed. Prosecutors said
Ramirez was present when Edward Bell lured Nandin to the house,
handcuffed Nandin and then shot him in the head. Prosecutors claimed
Ramirez was obsessed with his ex-wife, Dawn Holquin, who divorced
Ramirez in 1995 and later said he physically abused her.
After Bell was arrested, police discovered
evidence linking him to Ramirez, including statements by Bell to
friends prior to the murder that he had been paid $1,000 to kill a
firefighter, Nandin's primary occupation. Bell received a life
sentence for his part in the murder.
On Thursday, in a final statement while strapped
to a gurney in the death chamber, Ramirez spoke first to Nandin's
family and denied involvement in the slaying. "You lost someone you
love very much the same as my family and friends are going to lose
in a few minutes," he said. "I am sure he died unjustly, just like I
am. I did not murder him. I did not have anything to do with his
death." Ramirez then told his own family and friends that he loved
Ramirez was the 15th person executed in Texas
this year. He was the 351st put to death since the state resumed
capital punishment in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court
lifted a national death penalty ban, a total that leads the nation
Texas has seven executions scheduled before the end of 2005. Ramirez
made no request for his final meal.
Bonnie Jo's Homepage
Luis Ramirez # 999309
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston Texas 77351
I was convicted in May of 1999 of the capital
murder of Nemicio Nandin. He was a local fireman, and appliance
repairman. Mr. Nandin was murdered on April 8, 1998. He went missing
from this date until April 17, 1998. His body was found at a rural
residence near Miles, Tx.
I was first questioned about his disappearance on
April 13, 1998 by Texas Ranger Joe Hunt. At that time I was working
for a mortgage company. The job required me to travel regularly. I
covered all of West Texas . When Hunt asked me where I had been on
the day of the crime. I couldn't remember. In the five days since
the crime had occurred. I had done a lot of traveling. Luckily the
secretary at my office kept an itinerary . We called her on Hunt's
speaker phone. She reminded me that I had been in Brady, Tx. on that
day. that I had gone to do a "lot evaluation" . And that I had car
trouble on that day. When she mentioned the car trouble I was better
able to remember the day. i was then able to give an approximate
account of where I had been on April 8, 19998 (the day of the murder).
I told Ranger Hunt that a lady friend and her daughter had traveled
with me on this day. Without my knowledge, they brought her in for
questioning too. She also gave them an approximate account of that
day. Our statements were not idenitical but by reading them it was
obvious we had been in Brady, Tx. that day. After our statements
were taken we were released. And I was told that I was not a suspect.
Four days later a SWAT team broke into my house at 3:00 am.. and I
was arrested and have been incarcerated ever since.
The case against me is entirely circumstantial.
it lacks all basic proof .. There is no physical evidence .. No
Scientific evidence. No DNA. No witnesses.. And no murder weapon. My
conviction is based solely on the testimony of Tim Hoogstre, a
police paid informant. In a hearing outside of the jury's presence,
Mr. Hoogstre could not readily identify me. Mr. Hoogstra is a self
described "daily drug abuser". he was paid $500. prior to
testifying. This was alledgedly for moving expenses. mr. Hoogstra
claimed to be in fear of his life.
When questioned about the money he admitted that
it was not used for a deposit on his next home. He had moved in with
his inlaws. The lived in Grape Creek, Tx. 8 miles away. He said he
lived there rent and bill free. He also admitted that he didn't use
the $500 fro renting a moving van.. He moved his belongings in his
pickup. In fact, he could not account for how he spent the money.
When asked if he had bought drugs with it he said that he had not.
Along with this money, Mr. Hoogstra was also given leniency with a
shoplifting charge and other charges that he had pending.. he was
promised the "crime stopper" money upon my conviction too.
Hoogstra had a clear motive for testifying/perjuring himself. Even
still, his testimony amounted to this " I was getting high with Ed
Bell and he told me that Ramirez did it".. A rumor, Hoogstra had no
first hand knowledge of the crime. Bell was never called to testify.
Nor has he ever given a statement to corroborate Hoogstra's
testimony. It's important to note that Hoogstra didn't come to the
police until after the victims body was found
Which given the fact that he's an imformant ,
looks suspious. I could understand giving Hoogstra credibility if he
had the information that lead police to the body. But this is not
the case. He came along afterwards.. he merely served to point a
finger, collect his money, and make a deal to save his own hide. It
would have been too easy for the police to give their informant the
necessary information to testify with. There are other witnesses,
both for and against me.. but Hoogstra's testimony is the only thing
that remotely connects me to this crime. What he said can hardly be
Part Two of Luis Ramirez's story..
Let me regress a bit. Within days of my arrest I
told one of my court appointed lawyers (Gonzalo Rios) of my meeting
the owner of the property that I had been evaluating on the day of
the crime. Her property is about 100 miles from the crime scene. Mr.
Rios never talked to her. She could have been an alibi witness. Mr.
Rice was the attorney that I had the most contact with int he time
leading up to the trial.
He was the one responsible for most of the
leg work with the investigation. Earlier this year (2004) I learned
for the first time that Mr. Rios and his family are victims of a
capital murder. In the late 70's or early 80's his brother and a
cousin were murdered together. Another cousin was left seriously
wounded. To date, Mr. Rios had never disclosed this to me. Had I
known of it prior to trial I would not have wanted him on my team.
Ms. Raby was finally able to testify at an
evidentiary hearing held in April of 2001 it was in San Angelo,
before Judge Ben Woodward.. he was not the trial judge. Ms. Raby's
testimony directly contradicted what Mr. Hoogstra had said. And
unlike Mr Hoogstra, Ms. Raby did not testify for money , the promise
of money, or any other kind of compensation , consideration, or
inducement. She came forward to tell the truth.
I think it's important to talk about some of the
events of that evidentiary hearing For one, Mr. rios (court
appointed lawyer) was called to testify. He denied that I had ever
told him about Ms. Raby. Yet, in his files he had a copy of the "lot
evaluation" and was dated April 8, 1998. ( day of crime) It
contained Ms. Raby's phone number , address, work number, and
directions to her house. This "lot evaluaiton" was taken from my
office when the police executed a search warrant on April 20, 1998.
they had this potential alibi information for over a year before my
trial Yet, no one ever spoke to Ms. Raby. Not the police, not my
lawyers, not anyone. The search warrant contains other important
information. Let me outline this now.
Item #4 indicates a purchase order i used to have
my car repaired. it says that I had a broken belt. Which is what I
said in my statement to Ranger Hunt. It was dated April 9, 1998 the
day after the crime. Item #5 indicates the "lot evaluation" . they
even noted the name "David Raby" Ms. Raby's husband.. Item #9 of the
search warrant is very important. During Ms. Raby's testimony at the
evidentiary hearing the DA was able to trip her up. She said that
she had seen me at around noon on the day of the crime. The DA asked
if that had been the only time she had been to her property on this
day. She said that she had been to her property on this day. She
said that she has been back around 5 pm.He asked her if it was
possible that she saw me then" To this she replied " I'm almost
positive I saw him at noon But it is possible that I saw him later.
" This question was asked of her 3 years after we met. it isn't
difficult to understand her uncertainty about the times. What the DA
did not tell her is the information on item #9 .. It is a fuel
receipt from a convenience store in Eden , Tx. It indicates that I
was getting gas there at 4:50 pm on April 8, 1998. Eden is about 30
miles from Ms . Raby's property. Since I was on my way home and
having car trouble I also called my office from this store I don't
have a copy of the phone records. They indicate a call made from
this store to my office at 4:57 pm Ms Raby could not have seen me at
5: pm It is not possible for me to have driven 30 miles in 3
Judge Woodward ruled out the evidentiary hearing.
That in his opinion had the jury heard Ms. Raby's alibi tesitmony
that it would not have made a difference in the outcome of the trial.
As absurd as that may sound . In Feb. of 2004 Federal Judge Sam
Cummings in Lubbock Tx. agreed with im. At the present we are in the
process of obtaining a Certicate of Appealibility.. to the Fifth
Circuit court of appeals I feel that ample proof of my innocence has
already been presented to the courts. Unfortunately it appears that
in this case.. The truth is not enough.. I have never met Mr. Nandin.
Or Hoostra or Bell.
At this time June 2005.. The Fifth Circuit did
not grant me a COA.. all my appeals have run out.. If you have any
questions please feel free to contact me.... Thank you for reading
this and every word hence is the whole truth..
Luis Ramirez # 999309
IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW HAS ANY INFORMATION
ABOUT THIS CASE THAT CAN HELP LUIS CLEAR HIS NAME AND HELP HIM PROVE
HIS INNOCENCE .....PLEASE CONTACT THE ATTORNEY BELOW:
J.K. "RUSTY" WALL
ATTORNEY AT LAW
P.O. BOX 50123
MIDLAND, TEXAS 79710-0123
Interview With Luis Ramirez by Hasan Shakur
The following is yet another interview with yet
another innocent person that is right here on Texas Death Row.
O.L.I.F.E. is notorious for doing interviews with Innocent Prisoners
and exposing the crookedness of the system in the same time, showing
the public that they are helping kill innocent people.
The last time
I done something like this, (See HRC-Tx. Newsletter Issue I Volume
I), the person I profiled, he got help and is on his way, prayfully,
home to his family. NOW; we are hoping that someone steps in and
attempt to help this prisoner here. After the interview, we will
have legal papers to support all his claims, so you can look into
this yourself. But please, don’t let this go on deaf ears, we
prisoners down here, we have no way of getting proper attention
through other media outlets, so getting it through things such as
this newsletter is the only way, so you that are reading this,
spread the information around, let others read it and think hard why
are prisoners like this sitting right on death row about to be
killed for a crime he cold not have committed, had a solid alibi
with powerful proof, he still is about to be killed, been blazed
through the courts and have not been here that long, but he is about
to be killed! Where is the justice? Let’s go people….
OLIFE: Man, this been a long time coming! How you
doing brother? I hope that all is well as to be expected? Tell the
readers who you are, your age, and how long you been down here?
LR: You are right, it has been a long time
coming! I am doing fine Hasan! That’s something that cannot be said
a lot down here! My name is Luis Ramirez and I am 41 years old, and
have been on death row at the moment five years.
OLIFE: What are some of the things that you have
seen down here that have affected you the most?
LR: Well, many things have affected me since I
have been in captivity. Some are mundane, others profound. It is
actually very hard to pinpoint any one things. Over the years, since
I been incarcerated, I believe I have actually become desensitized
to most of the low intensity abuse. I just don’t even notice it
anymore. This tends to cloud my perception of things here. What I
can tell you, is that the dehumanization process begins the moment
you are arrested. And it gradually increases. One of the first
things they do, is to strip you naked. Think about what this
implies. I am a grown adult male. The last time I was treated in any
way resembling this was as a very small child. I had gotten my
clothes dirty, or it was bath time and my momma stripped me down and
id whatever was needed. Only now, it is being done by absolute
strangers. They claimed it was to search me. Yet, only a few minutes
earlier, they had drug me out of my bed wearing nothing but boxer
NO, this is largely done to show you the power
and control that they exert over you. To let you know in a tactic
way, just how far they can go. And how insignificant you really are!
Soon after this, they begin to change your identity and social label.
They put you in jail clothes and assign you a number. From this
point on, this is who you are. If your family wants to see you, it
is ‘go get number and so and so.’ Toy mail had better have your
number on it. If not, you will never receive it. Medical too, it is
all about the many numbers they give you. Your name has been made
irrelevant. Next, you are caged in totally unfamiliar surroundings.
You don’t even have a crap of physical property to remind you of who
you were only moments ago. Your new life has begun. You are no
longer in control of anything. You wake up when told, eat when fed,
and shower when allowed or you simply do without. These are the
punctuations between hours of boredom. Existing this way for even a
short time can be depressing. LONG TERM? It is simply maddening.
This is mundane. The profound is yet to come. Yeah, welcome to my
nightmare! We all know no one lives forever. And under ‘normal’
conditions, few know ‘when’ or ‘where’ we will be when our time
comes. One of the most profound things is that here on death row
after a time, we know exactly ‘when’ and ‘where.’ Everyone you meet
here will eventually know his expiration date! Kind of like products
on your supermarket shelf. My neighbor just notified me of such a
date yesterday. This is not surreal, it is extremely cruel. What do
you say to someone like my neighbor? How do you get your head around
knowing, that one day everyone you know here will be put down in a
manner deemed to human for animals? PROFOUND? Maybe, sick is more
OLIFE: Deep…damn…you wrote an article, if you
will, and I have read it. Tell me, what inspired you to write this
LR: yes, I did write an article. I wrote “what’s
in the brown paper bag?” (see this issue of O.L.I.F.E. for the
article) in September of 2003. Many things inspired me to write that
story. For one, I wanted to Memorialize not only the man I wrote it
about. I also wanted to recognize his good deed. The media does us
an enormous disservice whenever they portray us. I had hoped that
something about this story would dispel some of that negative image
that we are stigmatized with. What I wrote was true. I really didn’t
know what to expect here. All I had to rely on were those images
Hollywood had so wrongly provided me with. I really did expect to
find myself among monsters. To date, the opposite is true. Yes,
there are people here who are for one reason or another mentally
impaired. I am sure there are even a few truly bad people. But so
far, I have yet to meet the man who I feel is beyond redemption.
This is what the legal standard should be. “Is he/she beyond
redemption?” There is no positive way to determine that someone will
be a future danger. This is the current standard. People change all
the time. I’ve seen ministers become truly bad men, who could have
OLIFE: No one, that is who! What was life like
before you became incarcerated?
LR: I had a nice life before all this happened to
me. I’m a divorcee twice over, so I spent time with my kids about
every other weekend. This was my juice. It is what I lived for. I
had a nice job, suit and tie every day. I lived in a nice house and
in a good neighborhood. I was single and dated. But I had struck up
something with a lady that looked promising. I spent time with my
family. I didn’t live an extravagant life, but I was comfortable. I
lived a quiet low key life. I am that way by nature. I was happy. I
still can’t believe that in a blink of an eye, it is all gone….
OLIFE: In contrast to the situation you are in
now, what is it most that has affected you by your incarceration?
LR: The contrast Hasan is very clear. I was a
totally independent person. Here, I am not only living by someone
else’s will, I am unable to do the simplest things for myself. I
have to rely on others. By this, those in whom I rely are also
affected by the death penalty, be they family or friends.
OLIFE: I feel it, I feel it. What are some of the
goals that you still wish to see accomplished by yourself?
LR: I am almost afraid to set personal goals
anymore. It has been my experience that every time I am at the point
where I see my goal, something comes along to ruin it. The biggest
goal I had in my life however is not about me. I grew up on poverty.
I didn’t know it, but we were poor. I wanted for my children to be
more than I am. To live better than I did. And to one day be able to
put them through school. Leave them something that would make their
lives easier. I would have liked to have left each his own home,
what a burden to be lifted from your shoulders huh? That is what I
was working towards when I was free. To make success of their lives.
OLIFE: Now that is a goal worth striving for!
What is your daily routine if you have one?
LR: Well, much of my daily routine is dictated by
what is happening on the unit. But everyday, I have times aside in
which I try to accomplish things. I have a time when I pray,
exercise, write, clean and sometimes socialize. These are often
interrupted by ‘chow’, ‘rec.’ or ‘showers.’ But, I do try to stick
to my routine as closely as I can, it is what keeps me sane!
OLIFE: This should be easy; describe this place
to the readers will you?
LR: Hasan…this place is an oppressive steal and
concrete incubator. They grow anger, neglect, humiliation, and
despair here. Nothing good can come from existing within its
OLIFE: Ok, time for a funny question; what do you
think about the political climate in concerns to the death penalty?
LR: Ha, ha, ha! The political climate here
concerning the death penalty? Well, it is the Lemming effect. One
runs and dives into the abyss and the rest blindly follow. The same
could easily be said of the war on terror. The problem is that the
public is by and large uniformed. I know I was. I ‘thought’ I knew
about the death penalty, this is why I thought I would find monsters
here. The irony here is, that the ‘uniformed’ masses are usually
middle class or poor. These are the folks that support the death
penalty. And they are the very class of people that the death
penalty preys on too! The wealthy and educated don’t come here. As
long as the public at large remains ignorant to how the system
operates and knows nothing about its many pitfalls, then I believe
we will always have a death penalty. Most folks don’t even know how
the justice system workds. This is until they find themselves in an
orange suit standing before a judge. But by then, it is too late. By
now they are branded as criminals and it seems that no matter how
loud or eloquently we speak out to warn our neighbors, they refuse
to listen. Probably because they only see the criminal. They can’t
see the human being and a big question is: ‘Why do our politicians
hat us so?’ ‘Why do they not educate us so that we can make informed
decisions at the polls? Do they not work for us? Aren’t they public
servants?’ Somewhere along the line, this has been lost. We need to
remember that ‘we the people’ run this country!
OLIFE: Luis for president (smile)! Seriously,
what do you think could be some solutions?
LR: Solutions? It is education hands down!
Everyday PR campaigns are ran for this special interest, or that
one. They go to great lengths to ‘educate’ the public as to their
spin on things. And the public/consumers, are left to digest this
stuff and act on it. It is as simple as that. What is lacking here
is an aggressive anti-death penalty PR campaign. The problem is,
there is no money to be made from it. The only thing that we can
hope to accomplish is to maybe save our souls.
OLIFE: Alright, you speak of these PR Campaigns –
but what about your situation?
LR: The reason I mention the ‘PR’ campaigns, is
because it seems that in this country this is how you get things
done. If you have an idea or position, on something or if you oppose
an idea. The way to get yourself heard and with a proper spin, is to
have an effective PR machine do it for you. It is sad, but true. The
great citizens of the US have become a society of sheep. No one
wants to lead and no one wants to thing. We want all of this done
for us. We are willing to follow anyone. No matter how badly we are
lead, there is always danger to living this way. It comes with a
price. President Bush and his republican party have a very effective
and powerful PR machine. Kick back and look at what they have sold
us so far! ‘We must attack Iraq before they attack us with their
WMD’s!’ His PR machine very effectively used the ‘fall out of fear’
from 9/11 to get this done. And it was a lie! Yep! Today, families
across this country and Iraq are paying the price for this lie. They
pay it with blood, limbs, and lives of their loved ones. This lie
has also damaged our reputation as a nation. The credibility of our
government has been questioned. BUT, this is not the first or only
lie that we have been sold. The state’s PR machine has sold us
something else. They have sold that the death penalty is a deterrent
to crime. And this has been proven to be false. They will also tell
you that the death penalty is not applied in a capricious or
arbitrary manner. They say that it is applied fairly. But one has
only to look at Gary Ridgeway, aka “The Green River Killer.” He
committed the worst crime in American History. He murdered 48 women
over a 16-year-long period. And he is serving a life sentence! And I
have not mentioned the Blacks and Latinos are overrepresented in the
country’s death rows. More accurately, the death penalty in this
country reflects racism and hate, and that’s not justice. A strong
PR machine is needed in order to educate the public about these lies.
Maybe then popular support for this cruel and medieval punishment
OLIFE: Let’s get off into your legal situation;
how is the feeling of being literally railroaded?
LR: Being literally railroaded evokes a great
myriad of feelings. There is a lot of pain, anguish and fear. I feel
completely betrayed. I have totally lost faith in what the law
enforcement and criminal justice system represents. To an extent, I
have even lost faith in my fellow man. A lot of my core beliefs have
shaken and fallen. The idea that if you are innocent you have
nothing to worry about, and equal protection under the law, what is
that?! I once held these among the foundations of our society, and I
have painfully learned that they are little more than ‘lip service
and window dressings.’ They have a nice ring to them. They make you
feel good. Ignorance is really bliss! BUT, the awful truth is that
justice in America is neither fair nor equal. It is however for sale
and however much you can afford is how much you will receive. This
is why the Fastow’s and Martha Stewarts are treated with kid gloves.
And the poor are slam dunked! There are thousands of poor mothers
who had their children sent to foster homes because they were going
to prison. Not so for the Fastow’s! They can dictate to the court as
to when and how they will serve their time. Most poor people go to
prison immediately upon being convicted. Not so with Martha. She
gets time to figure out what she wants to do, and still, the
government has the audacity to dare say justice is equal? I read
about all of this from my cage on death row! I have not seen my
children in over six years! I do not even know where my two youngest
are! So, I read about these wealthy guilty people and I am utterly
amazed. Capital punishment was very correctly named; those with no
capital get punished….
OLIFE: You know me personally; I do not place a
lot of trust in anti-death penalty organizations, but – do you have
any attempting to help you get heard?
LR: No, I do not have any anti-death penalty
groups in my corner. My case is not one of those high profile cases.
My case is not going to draw a lot of people in the media nor draw
media attention to them as well. I mean, it is not like a lot of
people are killed or were killed in this case or that I ate the
victim or some weird stuff like that. I am simply an innocent man on
death row. No one seems too interested in that.
OLIFE: You hit the nail on the head! What would
you like to tell the people not only about your personal legal
situation, but about this entire experience if you want to call it
LR: Man, how does one begin to tell people about
a situation like this one? I wish I knew of a way to put it in a
fashion that people on the street would understand. Truth is, I
cannot. Nothing about the surreal way we exist has a counterpart out
there. I went from being a doting father, a veteran, a gainful
employed church-going man with a clean criminal record, to being a
death row convict. Any positive attribute or aspect of my life has
been voided out. I am now classified as ‘the worst of the worst.’
Can you imagine what it is like to be told that you can only see
your family and friends for two hours a week? And then, they will
see you through a window. And talk to you on the phone like an
animal in the zoo! There is nothing normal about this. But this is
what we have been reduced to.
OLIFE: Well, what can people do to help you right
LR: I honestly don’t know what people out there
could do for me. How about that they vote! It is time for a regime
change in this country. I suppose they could try to get the words
out about my case. Maybe then I could form some sort of support
group. Maybe find a way to raise money for a decent attorney and an
investigator. My case was not investigated well and it certainly was
not advocated well. I think that these are the very minimum one
should get when you are accused of anything.
OLIFE: If you were given the chance – what would
you like to tell the politicians about actual innocence?
LR: Well….I would tell politicians that actual
innocence is much too precious a thing to entrust to a judge and
jury. But, since this is the system that we have. I would say that
the standard needs to change. Rather than asking a jury to find a
capital murder defendant guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ You
think they should have to find them ‘guilty beyond ALL doubt.’ A
human life hangs in the balance and much needs to be said of the
value and sanctity of life.
OLIFE: Ok Brother, it was great interviewing you!
We will do this again Insha ‘Allah! You owe me a cheese cake too!
Anything you wish to tell the readers? And give them any and all
contact info too! Thank! Peace…cause without it….we got Bush!
LR: Ain’t that the truth! Thank you for this
chance to speak. I just want people to think about what I am saying
and get involved, not necessarily with my case, but get involved
period! It is time people wake up……
Luis Ramirez can be contacted at:
Luis Ramirez #999309
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, Tx. 77351 U.S.A.
What's In the Brown Paper Bag ?
By Luis Ramirez #999309
TX DEATH ROW
I'm about the share with you a story who's
telling is long past due. It's a familiar story to most of you
reading this from death row. And now it's one that all of you in
"free world" may benefit from. This is the story of my first day on
I came here in May of 1999. The exact date is
something that I can't recall. I do remember arriving in the
afternoon . I was placed in a cell on H-20 wing over at the Ellis
Unit in Huntsville, Tx. A Tsunami of emotions and thoughts were
going through my mind at the time. I remember the only things in the
cell were a mattress, pillow, a couple of sheets, a pillow case, a
roll of toilet paper ,, and a blanket .. I remember sitting there,
The first person I met there was Napolean Beasley.
Back then, death row prisoners still worked . His job at the time
was to clean up the wing and help serve during meal times. He was
walking around sweeping the pod in these ridiculous looking rubber
boots. He came up to the bars on my cell and asked me if I was new..
I told him that I had just arrived on d/r. He asked what my name is.
I told him., not seeing any harm in it. He then stepped back where
he could see all three tiers. He hollered at everyone, "There's a
new man here. He just drove up. His name is Luis Ramirez."
When he did that, I didn't know what to make of
it at first. I thought I had made some kind of mistake. You see ?
Like most of you, I was of the impression that everyone on d/r was
evil. I thought I would find hundreds of "Hannibal Lecter's in here.
And now , they all knew my name. I thought "Oh well," that's strike
one. I was sure that they would soon begin harassing me.This is what
happens in the movies after all.
Well, that's not what happened . After supper was
served. Napolean was once again sweeping the floors. As he passed my
cell, He swept a brown paper bag into it. I asked him "What's this"?
He said for me to look inside and continued on his way . Man, I
didn't know what to expect. I was certain it was something bad.
Curiosity did get the best of me though. I carefully opened the bag.
What I found was the last thing I ever expected to find on death
row, and everything I needed. The bag contained some stamps,
envelopes notepad, pen, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brush, a
pastry, a soda, and a couple of Ramen noodles. I remember asking
Napolean where this came from ?
He told me that everyone had pitched in . That
they knew that I didn't have anything and that it may be a while
before I could get them. I asked him to find out who had contributed
. I wanted to pay them back. He said, "It's not like that . Just
remember the next time you see someone come here like you..You pitch
in something ?"
I sat there on my bunk with my brown paper bag of
goodies, and thought about what had just happened to me. The last
things I expected to find on death row was kindness and generosity.
I thought of how many times I had seen "good people" of the world,
pass by some man, woman, or child holding a sign that read, "Hungry,
or will work for food." I'm guilty of the same. I just passed them
by. By the end of the block, or upon reaching my destination . That
poor, hungry, tattered, and perhaps dirty , soul had been forgotten.
Lost among my daily challenges and struggles with life. Yet, here on
death row Among the worst of the worst . I didn't have to hold up a
They knew what I needed and they took it upon
themselves to meet those needs.They did this without any expectation
of reimbursement or compensation. They did this for a stranger, not
a known friend. I don't know what they felt when they committed this
act of incredible kindness. I only know that like them,, twelve
"good people" had deemed me beyond redemption . The only remedy that
these "good people" could offer us, is death. Somehow what these
"good people" saw and what I was seeing didn't add up. How could
these men, who just showed me so much, humanity, be considered
the"worst of the worst."
It chills me to my core when I think about it.
Those twelve "good people" were given this enormous God like
responsibility . They had to decide who lives, and who dies. The
state of Texas gave them this responsibility. But they didn't give
them any God like training. I'm sure that they all meant well. They
probably thought, as the DA and judge told them, that they were
doing their civic duty. I personally have never considered murder a
civic duty. That aside, how many times have we gotten this wrong ?
I'm on the inside looking out now. I have that advantage over you.
So I can tell you this. I have yet to meet a man here who I feel is
beyond redemption . If you took a good look, and I invite you to do
that, You may just come to realize how often you have been wrong.
Ever since Napolean was executed, for a crime he
committed as a teen. I've wanted to share this story with his family.
I've never been able to find anyone with their address. If anyone
out there can share this with them, I would appreciate it very much.
I would like for them to know that their son was a good man. One who
I will never forget. I want for them to know how sorry I am that we
as a society failed them and him. I still find it ridiculous that we
as a people feel that we cannot teach or love our young properly.
I'm appalled at the idea that a teen is beyond redemption, that the
only solution that we can offer is death. It's tragic that this is
being pointed out to the "good people" by one of the "worst of the
worst." God help us all.
What's in the brown paper bag? I found caring,
kindness, love, humanity, and compassion of a scale that I've never
seen the "good people" in the free world show towards one another.
Ramirez v. Dretke,
398 F.3d 691 (5th Cir.) (Habeas)
Background: Following affirmance of conviction
for capital murder and sentence of death, state prison inmate sought
federal habeas relief. The United States District Court for the
Northern District of Texas, Samuel Ray Cummings, J., denied petition
and refused to issue certificate of appealability (COA). Petitioner
sought COA from Court of Appeals.
Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Emilio M. Garza,
Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) sufficiency of evidence to convict was not debatable;
(2) trial court's admission of accomplice's hearsay statements was
not contrary to or unreasonable application of Sixth Amendment;
(3) jury instruction in guilt phase did not improperly permit jury
to condemn without finding of intent; and
(4) petitioner's failure to prove incorrect state court's finding
that he had failed to inform his trial counsel of alibi witness
prior to trial precluded relief on ineffective assistance grounds.
Certificate of appealability denied.
EMILIO M. GARZA, Circuit Judge:
Petitioner Luis Ramirez was convicted of capital murder and
sentenced to death for the murder of his ex-wife's boyfriend,
Nemecio Nandin. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the
conviction and sentence on direct appeal and denied Ramirez's
subsequent petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A federal district
court denied Ramirez's ensuing petition for a writ of habeas corpus
and refused to issue a Certificate of Appealability ("COA"). Ramirez
now requests a COA from this Court, claiming that (1) his conviction
for capital murder is based upon legally insufficient evidence; (2)
he was denied his right to confront a witness when the court
admitted out-of-court statements by an accomplice implicating
Ramirez in the murder; (3) he was denied his right to trial by jury
because the district court allowed the jury to consider improper
evidence during sentencing; (4) he received ineffective assistance
of counsel because his trial counsel failed to locate, interview and
subpoena an alibi witness; and (5) he received ineffective
assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to object to
the district court's punishment charge.
Nemicio Nandin was a fireman and part-time washer/dryer
repairman who was dating Ramirez's ex-wife, Dawn Holquin. The record
suggests that Ramirez had been jealous of Holquin's boyfriends, and
Ramirez's daughter testified that Ramirez was visibly upset about
his ex-wife's relationship with Nandin. Days before Nandin's murder,
Ramirez was seen meeting with an associate, Edward Bell, at a house
owned by Lana Riordan (the "Riordan House") where Bell and his
girlfriend had previously lived. At around the same time, Bell told
Timothy Hoogstra, at whose home he was then staying, that Ramirez
had hired him to kill a fireman for $1,000.
Nandin was killed at the Riordan House on April
8, 1998, shot twice in the head with a shotgun and buried on the
property. His truck was later discovered at a local Wal-Mart. Bell's
girlfriend, Lisa McDowell, testified that she left Bell alone,
without a car, at the Riordan House between 11 A.M. and noon on the
day of the murder, and that Ramirez dropped Bell off at McDowell's
aunt's house between 3:30 and 4 P.M. that afternoon. As McDowell
drove Bell back from her aunt's house back to the Riordan House
later that afternoon, she saw Bell throw two latex gloves out of the
car window. Police later recovered the gloves and a set of keys
fitting Nandin's truck.
A subsequent search of McDowell's car revealed
Bell's wallet, containing two of Ramirez's business cards and
handwritten notes including directions to Holquin's house, her
address, her uncle's address, and descriptions of Holquin's and her
uncle's cars. Police also discovered in the car a pair of jeans and
a glove spattered with Nandin's blood. Shortly after the murder, but
before his arrest, Bell described the murder to Hoogstra. Bell told
Hoogstra that he and Ramirez had gone to the Riordan House, called
Nandin for a washer repair, handcuffed Nandin when he arrived and
shot him with a shotgun, burying him on the property. Testimony
indicated that Ramirez had purchased the same brand of handcuffs
The state also introduced evidence suggesting a
plausible timeline--a period of time in which Ramirez could have
been with Bell at the Riordan House committing the murder. Ramirez's
girlfriend, Ginger Herring, testified that on the day of the murder
Ramirez had packed a bag and left his home between 12:30 and 1:00
P.M. and returned around 3:00 or 3:30 P.M. Finally, the state
introduced evidence that Ramirez and Bell were seen together after
the murder and that on at least one occasion Bell, who had no
apparent means of support, returned from such a meeting with cash.
Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act (AEDPA), Ramirez must obtain a COA in order to appeal
the district court's denial of his habeas petition. See 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(1). To obtain a COA, Ramirez must make a "substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2). To satisfy this standard, Ramirez "must demonstrate that
reasonable jurists would find the district court's assessment of the
constitutional claims debatable or wrong." Slack v. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473, 484, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 146 L.Ed.2d 542 (2000). "[A] claim
can be debatable even though every jurist of reason might agree,
after the COA has been granted and the case has received full
consideration, that petitioner will not prevail." Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 338, 123 S.Ct. 1029, 154 L.Ed.2d 931 (2003).
"The question is the debatability of the underlying claim, not the
resolution of that debate." Id. at 342, 123 S.Ct. 1029. While the
nature of a capital case is not of itself sufficient to warrant the
issuance of a COA, in a death penalty case "any doubts as to whether
a COA should issue must be resolved in [the petitioner's] favor.' "
Hernandez v. Johnson, 213 F.3d 243, 248 (5th Cir.2000) (citing Clark
v. Johnson, 202 F.3d 760, 764 (5th Cir.2000)).
In determining whether a COA should be granted
under this standard, this Court must remain cognizant of the
deferential standard of review imposed by AEDPA upon the district
court in considering habeas petitions. See Miller-El, 537 U.S. at
336-37, 123 S.Ct. 1029 ("We look to the District Court's application
of AEDPA to petitioner's constitutional claims and ask whether that
resolution was debatable among jurists of reason.").
Under AEDPA, the district court may grant habeas
relief only if it determines that the state court's adjudication "resulted
in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by
the Supreme Court" or that the state court's adjudication of the
claim "resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the
State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(d)(1), (2). Further, the
state court's findings of fact are entitled to a presumption of
correctness and the petitioner may overcome that presumption only by
clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
Ramirez contends that jurists of reason would
find debatable the district court's conclusion that there was
sufficient evidence to find Ramirez guilty and that a rational juror
could have found Ramirez guilty of capital murder. [FN1] Under
section 2254, habeas relief "on a claim of insufficient evidence is
appropriate only 'if it is found that upon the record evidence
adduced at trial no rational trier of fact could have found proof of
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.' " West v. Johnson, 92 F.3d 1385,
1393 (5th Cir.1996) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 324,
99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979)). All credibility choices and
conflicting inferences are to be resolved in favor of the verdict.
United States v. Cyprian, 197 F.3d 736, 740 (5th Cir.1999). "A
determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be
presumed correct," and the petitioner "shall have the burden of
rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing
evidence." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
FN1. We interpret the district court's finding
that there was sufficient evidence to find Ramirez guilty as holding
that the state court's conclusion that the evidence was legally and
factually sufficient to sustain Ramirez's conviction was not an
unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. See 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).
Our review of the evidentiary record, summarized
in Part I, supra, shows reasonable jurists could not disagree with
the district court's determination that the state court was not
unreasonable in holding that the evidence presented at trial was
sufficient to permit a rational jury to find Ramirez guilty of
capital murder. Ramirez also suggests that the district court
erroneously relied on a "procedural bar" in rejecting his
insufficient evidence argument. This is incorrect.
court examined the transcript of the state trial and determined that
"there was sufficient evidence to find Ramirez guilty and that a
rational juror could have found Ramirez guilty of capital murder."
There is nothing in the district court's order denying Ramirez's
habeas petition to suggest that the court found or relied upon a
procedural bar in rejecting Ramirez's insufficient evidence argument.
Ramirez further suggests that under Texas law the
state trial court was required to determine whether Ramirez's
participation in the murder was inferrable from other evidence
before admitting Bell's out-of-court statements implicating Ramirez.
See Tex.Code Crim. Proc. Art 38.14. But to obtain a COA, Ramirez
must make a "substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2) (emphasis added). Even assuming that
Ramirez is correct with respect to Texas criminal procedure, he has
made no argument that the state statutory requirement is derived
from federal constitutional principles. See Cathey v. State, 992 S.W.2d
460, 462-63 (Tex.Crim.App.1999) ("The accomplice witness rule is a
statutorily imposed sufficiency review and is not derived from
federal or state constitutional principles that define the legal and
factual sufficiency standards.").
Ramirez next argues that admission of Bell's out-of-court
statements implicating Ramirez in the murder--specifically, Bell's
statement to Hoogstra before the murder that Ramirez had hired him
to kill a fireman and his subsequent description of the murder to
Hoogstra--violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses
against him. The admission of hearsay evidence against a defendant
implicates the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause because the
defendant is not afforded an opportunity to confront the out-of-court
declarant. Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56, 63, 100 S.Ct. 2531, 65 L.Ed.2d
However, a hearsay statement against a defendant may be
introduced if the statement bears sufficient "indicia of reliability."
Id. at 66, 100 S.Ct. 2531. Indicia of reliability can be shown
either by demonstrating that the statement falls within a "firmly
rooted" hearsay exception or that it is supported by "particularized
guarantees of trustworthiness." Idaho v. Wright, 497 U.S. 805,
815-17, 110 S.Ct. 3139, 111 L.Ed.2d 638 (1990). [FN3]
FN3. In Crawford v. Washington, the Supreme Court
held that "testimonial evidence" is not admissible absent a showing
that the declarant is unavailable to testify and that there was an
opportunity for cross-examination, irrespective of indicia of
reliability. 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 1374, 158 L.Ed.2d 177
(2004). While declining to provide a comprehensive explanation of
what constitutes testimonial evidence, the Court explained that "[w]hatever
else the term covers, it applies at a minimum to prior testimony at
a preliminary hearing, before a grand jury, or at a former trial;
and to police investigations." Id. The full reach of Crawford's
holding remains unclear, but both Ramirez and the State maintain
that Bell's out-of-court statements are not "testimonial evidence"
as that term is used in Crawford. We agree. There is nothing in
Crawford to suggest that "testimonial evidence" includes spontaneous
out-of-court statements made outside any arguably judicial or
Ramirez argues that Bell's non-custodial
statements do not fall within a firmly rooted exception and that
Bell's statements implicating Ramirez must therefore be supported by
particularized guarantees of trustworthiness. The State does not
dispute Ramirez's conclusion that Bell's statements do not fall
within a firmly-rooted exception. Instead it argues that the
statements are supported by particularized guarantees of
In support of his argument that Bell's out-of-court
statements to Hoogstra are not supported by particularized
guarantees of trustworthiness, Ramirez relies on the Supreme Court's
decision in Lilly v. Virginia, 527 U.S. 116, 119 S.Ct. 1887, 144
L.Ed.2d 117 (1999). In Lilly, the Supreme Court considered the
admissibility of a co-defendant's custodial confession made in
response to police questioning. A plurality of the Supreme Court
held that accomplice confessions inculpating a criminal defendant
are not within a firmly rooted exception to the hearsay rule. Id. at
134, 119 S.Ct. 1887. The Court further held that an accomplice's
statement implicating another person, made in police custody, in
response to leading questions and while under the influence of
alcohol was not supported by particularized guarantees of
trustworthiness and was, therefore, not admissible. Id. at 138-39,
119 S.Ct. 1887.
Comparison of the circumstances surrounding
Bell's out-of-court statements to the circumstances surrounding the
statements at issue in Lilly shows that Bell's statements are
supported by particularized guarantees of trustworthiness. [FN4]
Bell had not been arrested and was not in police custody when he
implicated Ramirez in Nandin's murder. Indeed, he made at least one
statement implicating Ramirez before the murder was even committed.
Bell spontaneously initiated the conversations implicating himself
and Ramirez in Nandin's murder, and he made those statements to the
friend with whom he was staying, Hoogstra, in Hoogstra's home. While
Hoogstra and Bell's sharing of a marijuana cigarette is arguably not
dissimilar from the declarant's heavy intoxication in Lilly, the
totality of the surrounding circumstances, discussed supra, provide
strong guarantees that Bell's statements were trustworthy.
Likewise, while Bell's statements had the effect
of implicating Ramirez as well as himself, Bell had no apparent
incentive at the time of these statements to risk implicating
himself and no apparent reason to believe that his statements might
result in leniency in any subsequent criminal prosecution. Under
these circumstances, we do not believe that reasonable jurists would
find debatable the district court's ruling that the state court's
adjudication did not result "in a decision that was contrary to, or
involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).
FN4. In determining whether Bell's out-of-court
statements are supported by particularized guarantees of
trustworthiness, we may not rely on evidence produced at trial that
tends to corroborate Bell's statements. See Lilly, 527 U.S. at
137-38, 119 S.Ct. 1887.
Ramirez also claims that the jury instructions
during the punishment phase of his trial deprived him of due process
of law. [FN5] Errors in jury instructions do not state a claim for
relief unless the error resulted in "prejudice of constitutional
magnitude." Sullivan v. Blackburn, 804 F.2d 885, 887 (5th Cir.1986).
The habeas petitioner must demonstrate that the error "had a
substantial and injurious effect or influence on the determination
of the jury's verdict." Mayabb v. Johnson, 168 F.3d 863, 868 (5th
Cir.1999). In a habeas proceeding, the burden of demonstrating that
an erroneous jury instruction violates the petitioner's Due Process
rights is "greater than the showing required to establish plain
error on direct appeal." Henderson v. Kibbe, 431 U.S. 145, 154, 97
S.Ct. 1730, 52 L.Ed.2d 203 (1977).
FN5. Ramirez's counsel did not object to the
challenged instruction at trial. See part VI, infra. MPThe instruction plainly asks whether "Luis Ramirez actually caused the
death of Nemecio Nandin, ... or if he did not actually cause
deceased's death, that he intended to kill the deceased or another,
or that he anticipated that a human life would be taken." (emphasis
added). This Court has recently held that a punishment phase
instruction similar to the one given here "include[s] the
requirement of a jury finding of individual liability during the
punishment phase." Campbell v. Dretke, No. 04-70005, 2004 WL 2830837
(5th Cir. Dec. 9, 2004); see also Westley v. Johnson, 83 F.3d 714,
723 (5th Cir.1996) (stating that the structure of the punishment
phase reasonably indicates to the jury that the law of parties is
not applicable during that phase).
Ramirez's claim that the instruction was
ambiguous when read in the context of the punishment-phase
instructions as a whole is simply unpersuasive in light of the plain
language of this instruction. [FN6] Reasonable jurists could not
disagree with the district court's ruling that the state court's
decision was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of
clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court.
FN6. Nor do we find any support for Ramirez's
contention that the district court, in reviewing Ramirez's habeas
claim, failed to consider the challenged instruction in light of the
punishment-phase instructions as a whole. The district court found,
as we do, that Ramirez had not cited any Supreme Court precedent
suggesting that additional language might be constitutionally
In his fourth and fifth grounds for COA, Ramirez
claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because
his trial counsel (1) failed to locate, interview, and subpoena an
alibi witness, Pat Raby and (2) failed to object to the district
court's punishment charge. To succeed in his ineffective assistance
of counsel claims, Ramirez must demonstrate that his counsel's
performance was deficient and that the deficiency prejudiced his
defense. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct.
2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).
To show deficient performance, Ramirez must show
that "counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not
functioning as the 'counsel' guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment." Id.
Performance will be found prejudicial only if, but for counsel's
errors, there is a reasonable probability that the final result
would have been different and confidence in the reliability of the
verdict has been undermined. Little v. Johnson, 162 F.3d 855, 862
(5th Cir.1998). Failure to prove either prong will defeat an
ineffective assistance claim. Green v. Johnson, 160 F.3d 1029, 1035
Ramirez argues that he is entitled to a COA on
his ineffective assistance of counsel claim because his counsel
failed to locate, interview and subpoena alleged alibi witness, Pat
Raby. Raby and her husband had a construction contract with
Ramirez's employer, Jim Walter Homes. Ramirez told the Texas Rangers
that he had been to Raby's vacant lot on the day of the murder, but
there is no indication in the record he told the Rangers he had seen
Raby there. At the state habeas proceeding, Raby testified that she
saw Ramirez at the lot sometime between 11:30 A.M. and 12:30 P.M. on
the day of the murder. Ramirez, in turn, testified that he told his
trial counsel and his court-appointed investigator about Raby.
Ramirez's trial counsel denied that Ramirez
informed him about Raby, and the state court was permitted under
Texas law to disbelieve Ramirez's claim that he told the
investigator about Raby even though the investigator did not testify.
See State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Rodriguez, 88 S.W.3d 313, 321
(2002) (trier of fact may disbelieve a witness even though his
testimony is not controverted).
Accordingly, the state habeas court determined
that trial counsel was not aware of Raby prior to trial, except
insofar as her name was in the prosecution file in connection with
the Jim Walters contract, and that counsel's failure to contact Raby
was not a deviation from professional standards. The court also
found that Ramirez had failed to show prejudice. The district court
rejected Ramirez's habeas petition, finding that Ramirez had failed
to rebut the presumption of correctness afforded the state court's
factual determinations by clear and convincing evidence.
Ramirez has not shown that the district court's
application of the AEDPA to this claim would be debatable among
reasonable jurists. Ramirez did not show by clear and convincing
evidence that the state court's factual determinations were
incorrect, and reasonable jurists could not debate the district
court's finding that failure to contact Raby, who under the state
court's factual determinations had only the most tangential
connection to Ramirez and no apparent connection to the murder, was
not deficient performance. Because reasonable jurists could not
debate the district court's finding with respect to the state
court's adjudication of the deficient performance prong of Ramirez's
ineffective assistance claim, we need not address whether there was
prejudice. See Green, 160 F.3d at 1035.
Ramirez also claims that his trial counsel
provided deficient performance by failing to object to the trial
court's jury instructions based on the defect alleged in Part V,
supra. The state habeas court found that the trial judge gave the
instructions mandated by Texas law and that the jury was adequately
instructed, and we have already refused to grant a COA on Ramirez's
jury instruction claim.
Because Ramirez has shown no error with
regard to the jury instructions, reasonable jurists could not
disagree with the district court's determination that the state
court's adjudication did not involve an unreasonable application of
clearly established federal law. While not identifying it as a
separate claim in his COA petition, Ramirez also suggests that he "was
denied his Due Process right to have a jury consider an important
sentencing issue mandated by [Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466,
120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000)]."
Ramirez made a similar argument to the district
court, which the district court rejected, but made no such argument
to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Because Ramirez did not make
his Apprendi argument before the state habeas court we decline to
address it here. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(b), (c); Henry v. Cockrell, 327
F.3d 429, 431 (5th Cir.2003); Nobles v. Johnson, 127 F.3d 409, 420
(5th Cir.1997) (declining to address a claim the substance of which
was not fairly presented to the state habeas court).
Ramirez has not shown that reasonable jurists
could debate the district court's resolutions of his constitutional
claims, and therefore COA is DENIED on all claims.