A Connell man could have wanted to kill his 18-year-old girlfriend because he was possessive and obsessed with her, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Closing arguments were given in the case of Prudencio Juan Fragos-Ramirez, 26, accused of shooting his girlfriend and her son and setting fire to their car in northern Franklin County in 2015.
Maria Cruz-Calvillo, 18, of Othello, and her son, Luis Lopez-Cruz, 3, are believed to have died from gunshot wounds before flames consumed the vehicle in a ravine less than a mile from her home.
Prosecutors focused on text messages between the couple and a 9mm handgun found in an orchard where Fragos-Ramirez worked.
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There’s no reason for that gun to be in that part of the orchard.
Brian Hultgrenn, prosecutor
Franklin County prosecuting attorney Brian Hultgrenn said Fragos-Ramirez lied about owning a gun when he first talked to investigators. When detectives found pictures of a similar 9mm handgun on his Facebook page, he said he owned a gun but had sold it.
When they found a handgun near where he worked, Fragos-Ramirez told them that it may have his prints on it.
“There’s no reason for that gun to be in that part of the orchard,” Hultgrenn said.
The caliber, make and model of the gun matched, but there was not enough evidence to show if it was the exact firearm used in the shooting.
Hultgrenn told jurors that Cruz-Calvillo was afraid of her boyfriend, and even tried to bring an extra person with her to his house. One text sent before her death referenced a meeting place in the orchard, which prosecutors say shows that Fragos-Ramirez intended to take her out in the field and kill her.
“She knows he is going to murder her and he’s going to take her son with her,” Hultgrenn said.
Defense attorney Scott Johnson argued that Cruz-Calvillo was acting different and seemed anxious even months before she met Fragos-Ramirez.
Johnson argued that this could have been because she started getting involved with drug dealers, which may have led to her death.
Prosecutors didn’t focus on any texts after until July 2015, when Cruz-Calvillo was found dead, Johnson said. He described the defendant’s texts as “enduring.”
This is an execution.
Scott Johnson, defense attorney
“No one sees any anger,” Johnson said.
The text about meeting in the orchard could have been in reference to a past drug deal, Johnson said. Other texts showed that Cruz-Calvillo appeared frustrated at Fragos-Ramirez about an alleged drug deal attempt that may have fell through in April 2015.
Several witnesses, including Lopez-Cruz’s father, could not be tracked down, Johnson said. Several case witnesses who disappeared knew Cruz-Calvillo but did not know Fragos-Ramirez.
Several of the witnesses may have family in Mexico and likely travel back and forth between the two countries, Hultgrenn said. Many of those witnesses, including the child’s father, had no additional information detectives needed.
“The sheriff’s office wasn’t pointing to him,” Hultgrenn said. “Every single piece of evidence was.”
Johnson said Cruz-Calvillo and her son were likely murdered by drug dealers.
“This is not a random crime,” Johnson said. “This is an execution.”
Hultgrenn said finding the handgun in the orchard where Fragos-Ramirez worked could not be shrugged off.
“They want this case to be about something it’s not,” Hultgrenn said.