Just as the jury was about to be seated Monday and opening arguments were set to begin, Albert Ramirez decided to plead guilty and accepted the maximum sentence for the first-degree murder of his mother’s boyfriend.
Ramirez, 20, will serve life in prison and forfeited his right to an appeal, District Attorney Matt Chandler said.
In New Mexico a person sentenced to life in prison can become eligible for parole after 30 years.
“We were quite shocked when the defense team walked in with a signed agreement that he would serve a life sentence,” Chandler said.
Through his plea, Ramirez admitted to the July 2007 shooting of his mother’s boyfriend Eladio Robledo outside the Sixth Street home the victim shared with Ramirez’ mother.
Debra Ramirez had filed a no-trespass order against her son in the months before the shooting. She told police she was afraid of her son because of his violent tendencies.
Chandler said his office was approached by the defense prior to jury selection to see if there was a plea offer from prosecutors. Chandler said the prosecution told them it was either, “plead guilty or go to trial.”
The state’s case against Ramirez was air-tight, Chandler said.
“We think it was the same outcome we would have gotten if we had gone to trial,” he said.
The prosecution was prepared to bring eyewitnesses to the shooting. Others were ready to offer first-hand accounts of Ramirez shopping for a gun prior to the shooting.
The prosecution also was prepared to show video of Ramirez paying a stranger at WalMart to purchase ammunition for him.
Ramirez’ pants with the leftover bullets from the shooting, his photo identification and a toothbrush with his DNA on it were found in a dumpster near the scene.
Another witness, a man who let Ramirez stay with him after the shooting, would have testified that Ramirez said he “smoked” Robledo and “emptied his gun in him,” Chandler said.
The day of the shooting, Chandler said Ramirez was, “lying in wait, knowing that Eladio (Robledo) would go to work at around 1:45 (p.m.) like he’d always done.”
Ramirez shot Robledo twice in the chest and as he ran for his life and collapsed a few feet away, Ramirez was seen by a witness standing over him and firing two more shots into his head, Chandler said.
Ramirez then fled the scene and was captured a few days later at a local apartment.
“The credit of this life sentence lies solely on those (who) conducted the investigation,” Chandler said.
“He pled because the evidence collected and the investigation conducted was going to bury him.”
In addition to the life sentence, Chandler said Ramirez will serve an additional 36 months and pleaded guilty to battery on a peace officer and assault on a peace officer for head-butting and spitting on detention officers who were transporting him from court after a hearing several months ago.
Defense attorney Brett Carter did not return a call seeking comment.