Murder suspect pleads guilty
A 36-year-old South Lake Tahoe man pleaded guilty Monday to killing his estranged girlfriend with a knife and a hammer, but he said she cut him first.
Ramiro Galicia is set for sentencing June 4.
In exchange for the guilty plea, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the death penalty.
Galicia pleaded guilty before District Judge Michael Gibbons to first degree murder in violation of an extended order for protection against domestic violence.
The victim, Jazmin Gonzalez, 22, was killed Nov. 19, 2006, by Galicia who authorities said had been hiding in a closet in a room she was cleaning at the Horizon Casino Resort.
The murder occurred about three weeks after Gonzalez obtain a year’s extension to a restraining order against Galicia which she obtained Oct. 24, 2006.
Speaking through court interpreter Chris Houghton, Galicia said he understood the charge.
“I understand it very well,” Galicia said. “I accept it because it’s true.”
He faces life in prison without parole at his sentencing. He also could be sentenced to life in prison or 50 years in prison with chance of parole after 20 years.
The temporary protection order enhancement adds five years to the sentence.
Galicia apologized during the proceeding because “it seems like I’m not understanding very well.”
“I told him I believe what you were doing is asking him whether it was true that he wanted to plead guilty,” lawyer Tod Young said.
“Did you cause the death of Jazmin Gonzalez?” Gibbons asked.
“Yes, I caused it,” Galicia replied.
Galicia denied that the murder was planned and that he attempted to kidnap the victim, had been lying in wait for her, or held her against her will.
“None of those things are true,” he said. “It wasn’t planned or anything like that.”
“Did you hit her with the hammer?” Gibbons asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“Did you stab her with the knife?” Gibbons said.
After conferring with Galicia, Young said his client was cut first with the knife by Gonzalez.
“What he will tell you is that initially he had an argument. He was cut in that argument and became angry,” Young said. “The wounds on Jazmin occurred after that. When he became angry, he lost control.”
Galicia said he brought the hammer because he had to fix a broken bed frame and did not intend to hurt Gonzalez.
He said after they started arguing, he told Gonzalez she could call the police.
“I was going to leave. She was offending me,” he said. “Not only did she offend me physically and hurtfully, she started bringing our son into it. That’s when I lost control.”
Prosecutor Mike McCormick disputed Galicia’s account of the murder.
“We do believe it was planned. He went with another person and had his friend register at the Horizon right in the wing that was the victim’s assigned duty area. We don’t believe the issue was self-defense. He also had Duct tape. It was a well-planned scheme,” McCormick said.
“She was his girlfriend and she was his property. Heaven help her if she should go get those type of (restraining) orders,” he said.
Young said the Mexican consulate offered to help provide visas for witnesses his client wants to testify on his behalf at the sentencing.