Homicide defendant Olivia F. Ramos admitted shooting a Merced man nearly a dozen times in September, including twice in the groin, and leaving his dead body in a Le Grand orchard, a Merced County sheriff’s detective testified earlier this week.
Detective Erick Macias said Ramos first shot Ernesto Estrada Perez, 30, in the upper body on Sept. 9 in an orchard near Buchanan Hollow and South Minturn roads. Then, Macias said, Perez tried to flee.
“She stated she shot him in the back as he tried to run away,” Macias testified.
Ramos, 25, told investigators she then noticed Perez’s pants were down around his ankles and became enraged. She approached Perez continuously firing a semi-automatic pistol and emptied the clip, according to a Sheriff’s Department report.
Ramos was ordered to stand trial by Judge Mark A. Bacciarini following a preliminary hearing Monday in Merced County Superior Court.
Investigators found two different types of spent bullets at the scene, which could possibly have been fired from the same type of weapon, Macias said.
The puzzling circumstances surrounding Perez’s death have been compounded by Ramos’ alternating version of events, officials have said. “There were a number of times that Ms. Ramos lied to me,” Macias testified.
Under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Gerald Egan, Macias said Perez’s wallet and cellphone were not at the scene.
Ramos changed many details in separate interviews with investigators, including what she did with the alleged murder weapon and the shell casings. She also later said another man helped her clean up the scene and torch Perez’s pickup truck.
According to the Sheriff’s Department report, Perez was married and Ramos had a boyfriend. They had been communicating through text messages and social media in the days leading up to the homicide.
Ramos eventually told investigators that Perez picked her up late on Sept. 8 and drove her to the orchard. She said Perez tried to touch her, then pulled a pistol from under the driver’s seat and put it in his pants, Macias testified.
Perez’s family has said he did not own any firearms, according to a report from deputies.
Ramos told investigators that Perez got out of the vehicle to take a phone call and became upset. She said she also got out the vehicle and pretended to hug Perez but pulled the gun from pants and pointed it at him. Perez laughed and advanced towards her, Macias testified.
As Perez approached, Ramos fired the gun. According to the detective, she then fired several more times.
When detectives confronted Ramos with the two different types of spent bullets found at the murder scene, she changed her story again, claiming that her boyfriend returned to the scene with her and fired at least two shots from another gun into Perez’s dead body, Macias said.
She told investigators her boyfriend helped her clean up the scene, disposing of the shell casings, firearm and truck, the detective testified. Later, Ramos claimed they left the gun in the orchard. The murder weapon hasn’t been found, Macias said.
The detective also said deputies received unconfirmed information that Perez had been threatened by Ramos’ boyfriend several days earlier.
No other people have been charged in the case, authorities confirmed Monday.
Caleb Hegland, deputy public defender, noted that Ramos’ boyfriend is a known gang member and asked whether it is typical for girlfriends of gang members to “take the fall” for their boyfriends. Macias said it is known to happen.
Investigators later found bloody clothing and shoes at Ramos’ home in Chowchilla. The shoes matched prints found near Perez’s body, Macias testified.
Ramos was ordered to return to court Feb. 10 for arraignment. She remains in custody at the Merced County Jail on more than $1 million bail.
Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 385-2482.