Ramirez Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison for Attack on Sikh Taxi Driver

hate-crimeJudge Timothy Fall sentence Pedro Ramirez to 13 years in prison for the beating of a Sikh Taxi Driver back in November 2010.  This followed an extended attempt to withdraw from his plea, based on ineffectual counsel.

At the hearing, Aman Kaur spoke on behalf of the family.  She proclaimed it was not a happy day but the family was satisfied that laws were followed and grateful to the efforts of law enforcement for the quick apprehension and resolution of this case.

She announced that the victim would recover, though he had suffered very serious injuries and for a time things did not look good.  Despite his recovery, he continues to suffer from headaches and memory problems.

She expressed shock and outrage at the fact he was attacked because he wore a turban and because of his race.  “We didn’t think this would happen in our community,” she read.  She said they would continue to fight racism.

In the end, she said that they forgive both Mr. Ramirez and Johnny Morales, the co-defendant who played a smaller role in the attack, and prayed that they could find peace.

Deputy DA Ryan Couzens spoke out against what he called a brutal and senseless attack, as bad as any that he had seen.

Defense Attorney J. Toney disagreed that racism or hate motivated this crime.  He argued that Mr. Ramirez is not a racist, and he bases that on a number of conversations they have had.  He understands that the court wants to hold him to the previous plea agreement and he accepts that.

But he did point out that Mr. Ramirez did not go looking for or singling out the victim.  What happened was, instead, a spontaneous argument that escalated into hateful words flying, and it went too far.

Mr. Ramirez does not have a hate problem he argued, he has a drinking problem.  A letter from Mr. Ramirez’ wife asked that he get treatment for his substance abuse and that was put into the court’s order, as well.

At the previous hearing we saw Pedro Ramirez speak on his own behalf for the first time.

He was calm and well-spoken.  He argued that he wanted to take back his plea due to the fact that he felt pressured into accepting it.  He argued that his attorney had failed to investigate and interview witnesses.

He said he had requested to waive time to think more about it, but he was pressured into the plea by his attorney and the Public Defender Tracie Olson.

He described the incident as a fist fight between two men.  He said that he knows he faces heavy charges, even life, if convicted.

He claimed that, during the dispute, the taxi driver assaulted him.  That he poked him in the face, and he responded by punching the man in the nose.

Mr. Ramirez told the court that he had told Mr. McCarthy that he had not wanted to take the plea.  He said that Tracie Olson had talked to his wife and brother-in-law and convinced him to take the plea to avoid life.

He said he had been under the impression that he only faced a year in county jail, and that he had only ten hours to consider.

Despite Mr. Ramirez’ feeling, it is clear that 13 years was the best he was going to get.  In fact, we overhead his attorney mention that even had he beaten every charge he could beat, the best he could have gotten was 12 years.  The facts of the case and overwhelming evidence that he did assault the cab driver suggest that this was an appropriate punishment, even though we tend to agree with the defense that this was probably not racially-motivated but rather a dispute that got out of control.

We are more sympathetic to the plight of the co-defendant, who appears to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It is not clear to us that he participated in the assault.  There is evidence that he attempted to intervene, along with Mr. Ramirez’ wife, to stop the beating. 

Nevertheless, Mr. Morales did not want to roll the dice on a trial, and he has since been released from custody and can now work to put his life back in order.

We are encouraged to hear that the victim in this case is recovering.  This was a serious attack and for those reasons we believe that the 13-year term is appropriate.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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7 Comments

  1. Iyah

    Thank you for your continued work bringing information to the public. I find it interesting that the people who accuse you have constantly having an agenda have not commented here. I appreciate your honest assessment of what you witness in court and it keeps us all more informed.

  2. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Thank you for your continued work bringing information to the public. I find it interesting that the people who accuse you have constantly having an agenda have not commented here. I appreciate your honest assessment of what you witness in court and it keeps us all more informed.[/quote]

    May I remind you that dmg wanted to let off the other defendant completely, and thinks this defendant should not have been convicted of a hate crime…

  3. David M. Greenwald

    Elaine: there were four or five witnesses who would have testified that the other defendant played no role in the attack. I thought he should take his case to trial and thought he would be acquitted. His attorney believed he would have been acquitted as well.

    I don’t think that Ramirez committed a hate crime, but that doesn’t change the sentencing much which is correct and apparently would not have changed a lot had the hate crime not been included.

  4. Double Bogey

    David: It has been reported pretty widely that Ramirez shouted racial slurs at Singh while savagely beating him. How is that not a hate crime?

  5. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]David: It has been reported pretty widely that Ramirez shouted racial slurs at Singh while savagely beating him. How is that not a hate crime? [/quote]

    Bingo!

  6. David M. Greenwald

    Double Bogey: Shouting racial slurs does not in and of itself make it a hate crime. A hate crime is actually a crime motivated by hate. In this case, it seems more likely that this was a couple of guys who got into a dispute probably over cab fare, they started yelling at each other, it escalated to the point where one guy beat the crap out of the other guy and at the same time was shouting racial epithets. He was also extremely drunk which probably caused him to lose his judge and overreact. He certainly deserves the prison time, but in my understanding that is not a hate crime. It’s not a hate crime merely because you call someone a racial slur. Maybe that’s what the law has evolved to, but that was not to my understanding what it started out as, and I worked on some of the initial hate crimes legislation in the mid 90s in DC.

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