By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
The death penalty will be sought for a man once convicted of raping, sodomizing and murdering a woman behind a Garden Grove bar in 1983, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced this week.
Richard Ramirez, now 52, was convicted in 1985 and sentenced to death, but appeals lasted for decades until a federal court overturned the conviction in 2008.
Now, the D.A.’s office has charged Ramirez with one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of rape and murder in commission of sodomy and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon.
He will stand trial beginning on Jan. 6 at 9 a.m. in Dept. C-40 in the Orange County Superior Court.
Ramirez is accused of attacking and killing 22-year-old Kim Gonzalez outside Mr. Barry’s Bar on Garden Grove Boulevard on the night of Nov. 20, 1983.
After Ramirez and Gonzalez reportedly drank, danced and kissed in the bar, the woman left the bar around 1 a.m. through the bar’s rear door.
It’s alleged that Ramirez, who had a previous rape conviction from 1978, followed the woman. Carrying a long-necked beer bottle, he allegedly confronted her in an alley, sexually assaulted her and stabbed her 19 times before fleeing.
The woman’s body was found at 6 a.m. on Nov. 21.
Ramirez was arrested by Garden Grove police. He was convicted and sentenced to death on July 26, 1985, but appeals kept him alive until 2008, when a federal judge ruled that the original trial was flawed because a juror failed to reveal that he had failed to reveal that he had filed an application to become a law enforcement officer.
The ruling by Judge Consuelo Marshall invalided both the original trial’s finding of guilt as well as the death sentence.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas made the announcement of the new trial Monday, adding that DNA evidence would – in his opinion – link Ramirez to Gonzalez death.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin will prosecute the case.