STOCKTON, Calif. -- Sydney Perry lashed out against three people who kept her teenage nephew shackled in a Tracy house and beat, burned and starved him until he escaped on Dec. 1, 2008. She called them sadistic. She called them cowards. She called them monsters.
"There is no punishment severe enough for you," Perry said Monday morning in a San Joaquin County Superior courtroom before Caren Ramirez, Michael Schumacher and Kelly Lau, were each sentenced to at least three decades in prison.
Perry called out Schumacher, saying he stood by and let this happen. She told Ramirez that she is "trash."
"You should've been taken out a long time ago," Perry told the woman who was supposed to be her nephew's guardian. "Today is your day to be taken out."
Ramirez, 45, received the longest sentence, 34 years. She was the caretaker of the victim, Kyle Ramirez. She and Kyle stayed in Tracy from July 2007 until December 2008 at the home of Schumacher and Lau, whom they had met through a mutual friend.
It was there, Kyle told investigators, that he was abused for more than a year by the adults living there. He was starved, chained, beaten, punched, choked, threatened, cut, and burned with a red-hot aluminum bat.
Lau, 32, received a sentence of 33 years. Schumacher, 36, her husband, received a sentence of 30 years..
The sentences were part of plea deals the three accepted in October, in which they pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges. In exchange for their guilty pleas, the district attorney's office dropped torture and aggravated mayhem charges against them, which could have gotten them life sentences if they were convicted by a jury.
The fourth person charged in the case, Anthony Waiters, the next-door neighbor of Lau and Schumacher, will be sentenced Jan. 18. He was convicted last month by a San Joaquin County jury that found him guilty of torture, aggravated mayhem and other charges. Waiters 31, a former youth football coach, could be sentenced to life in prison.
Kyle Ramirez, now 18, was in the San Joaquin County courtroom for Monday's sentencing and was scheduled to speak, but changed his mind.
Judge Terrence Van Oss told the court it is impossible to explain what happened in this case.
"I just can't imagine what was going through these folks' minds," Van Oss said before sentencing the three. "All the words in the world are not going to do any good."
Prosecutor Angela Hayes said outside the courtroom that she also could not explain why the abuse occurred. It defies logic and the imagination, she said.
"I just know they're four people in the world who should have never met," Hayes said.
Kyle Ramirez stayed at the house from the summer of 2007 until Dec. 1, 2008, when he unshackled himself, jumped on a trampoline and flipped over a back fence. He ran to a Tracy gym wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a three-foot chain around his ankle. His head was shorn and he was dirty, scarred and emaciated when he arrived begging for help.
Kyle Ramirez, who was 16 when he escaped, said he had been forced to sleep on the fireplace hearth, and was kept chained. He told police his many wounds were treated with salt, bleach and tape, and that he feared for his life and overheard his captors talk about killing him.
When Kyle jumped that fence, his life changed, his uncle, Ralph Perry, told the court.
"He escaped into his future," he said. "In an ambulance ride he came to a better place."
And the lives of his nephew's tormentors have also changed.
"They are going to ride in a bus to prison," Ralph Perry said. "And that's where they belong."
(c) 2010, Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.).
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