OGDEN — A South Ogden man accused of stabbing his roommate to death then cleaning the crime scene could be facing a more serious charge if a plea agreement isn’t reached before his trial, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Jesus Martinez Ramos, 45, is facing charges of murder, a first-degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; and abuse or desecration of a human body, a third-degree felony.
Ramos was present in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing regarding the murder of 54-year-old Shiela Jean Dunn, a roommate of Ramos whom he’s accused of killing.
Before witnesses were called during the hearing, prosecutor Dean Saunders told Judge Ernie Jones that there was sufficient evidence to charge Ramos with aggravated murder, a more severe charge than the one Ramos is currently facing. Saunders said prosecutors would file amended charges to escalate the murder charge to an aggravated murder charge if a deal isn’t reached before the case heads to trial.
Saunders added that the state would not pursue the death penalty, but those convicted of aggravated murder face a stiffer penalty than a murder charge, with a defendant facing a minimum of 25 years to life in prison.
The first witness called to testify Tuesday was Dr. Michael Belenky, an assistant medical examiner with the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.
Belenky performed the autopsy on Dunn, and said that roughly 140 stab wounds were found on her body during the medical examination. He said that she was stabbed in her back, front torso and neck multiple times, causing her to bleed out and die within “several” minutes.
The next witness, Steve Zaccardi, is the commander of the Weber County Attorney’s Office homicide task force. Zaccardi was at the scene where Dunn’s body was found. He later interviewed Ramos and his girlfriend, who also lived in the apartment with Ramos and Dunn.
He told the court that during his interview with Ramos, inconsistencies emerged between his story and the events told by Ramos’ girlfriend. Later, Zaccardi testified that Ramos admitted to stabbing Dunn “a couple times” in her back. Ramos allegedly told Zaccardi that he was angry with Dunn because she allegedly told people he was sleeping with another woman, which he said was not true.
Zaccardi also answered questions regarding crime scene photos, which were projected onto a screen during the hearing. Evidence shown in court included photos from the apartment where the three lived and where Dunn allegedly was killed. One photo showed the living room floor glowing blue from Luminol, a chemical that displays where bloodstains has been cleaned in crime scenes. Another photo showed a bathroom in the apartment, the sink covered in the blue glow of Luminol.
Ramos allegedly told Zaccardi that he cleaned the whole apartment with bleach after the attack.
Randy Marshall, Ramos’ attorney, told the court his client would be taking his advice and would decline to testify during the Tuesday hearing. Ramos nodded is head in agreement.
Jones decided there was sufficient evidence to move the case forward, and Ramos entered not guilty pleas to all three charges against him. Though the state had not filed a motion to amend Ramos’ murder charge to an aggravated murder charge as of Tuesday afternoon, Jones said that probable cause exists to satisfy the elements of aggravated murder.
Ramos is being held without bail at the Weber County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled to take place on Jan. 16, 2019 in Ogden’s 2nd District Court.