A 21-year-old man accused of stabbing his former girlfriend and leaving her to die reportedly traveled to Prosser the day before he intended to attack her.
Christian Ramirez came from California on a bus “with premeditation to commit this crime,” Deputy Prosecutor Emily Sullivan said Thursday in Benton County Superior Court.
Then, after surprising Alondra G. Herrera early Sept. 18 and stabbing her multiple times with a knife, Ramirez tried to hide from law enforcement until his arrest almost 15 hours later in Sunnyside, Sullivan said.
Herrera survived the attack, but had to undergo surgery for her wounds. She is recovering in Richland’s Kadlec Regional Medical Center and is in satisfactory condition, according to a hospital spokesman.
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Ramirez appeared Thursday in Benton County Superior Court on one count of first-degree assault with a domestic violence allegation. He pleaded innocent and a Nov. 17 trial was set.
According to law enforcement and court documents, a person called 911 at 6:38 a.m. Sept. 18 after finding Herrera covered in blood, yelling for help and saying she was going to die.
Herrera told Benton County sheriff’s deputies that she had left her West Heck Road apartment in rural Prosser and got into her truck to go to work. She didn’t know Ramirez was hiding in the truck.
Ramirez then stabbed her multiple times, got out and then back into the truck, and continued the attack, documents said.
Ramirez allegedly pulled his ex from the truck and drove off. The abandoned truck was found later that morning near the Grant Avenue bridge in Prosser, and investigators noticed blood inside.
Law enforcement officials went to Ramirez’s family’s home at a Wine Country Road complex, where they found blood in the hallway, door and laundry room, court documents said. Relatives said Ramirez arrived from California on Sept. 17, but they didn’t know his whereabouts at that time, documents said.
Prosser schools locked down during a search of the family’s apartment.
Authorities arrested Ramirez that night in Sunnyside at a relative’s mobile home.
In the hours before Ramirez’s capture, detectives received information that he might hurt Herrera again or that he was going to leave the area, Prosecutor Andy Miller said.
The sheriff’s office and Benton County Prosecutor’s Office agreed the main priority was to get a warrant in the system and, with what few details they knew at the time, filed a first-degree assault charge.
“However, we have told the family that when we get the full investigation, we can re-evaluate to see if we can prove attempted murder,” Miller told the Herald.
He pointed to the case of Jose Luis Aguilar, who initially was charged with manslaughter to secure his arrest. Authorities later amended the charges to murder and rape of a child once all of the police reports and witness statements were in.
On Thursday, Sullivan argued to keep Ramirez locked up with a high bail amount because of the severity of Herrera’s injuries and harm, and the possibility Ramirez might take off.
Ramirez has been in the Benton County jail on $500,000 bail since police booked him Friday evening after an overnight hospital stay for an undisclosed condition.
Kraig Gardner, an Ellensburg attorney, asked to have it reduced to $20,000, saying anything higher is a hardship for Ramirez’s family.
Gardner said he was standing in for colleague James Kirkham Jr., who was hired Wednesday by the Ramirez family. He pointed out that Ramirez’s mother and brother were in court.
Herrera’s aunt also attended the hearing on behalf of her family.
Gardner said the allegations before the court aren’t sufficient for Ramirez to be held legally accountable. There’s a presumption of innocence until there is a finding in trial, and one can’t assume Ramirez was trying to avoid capture just because he was found in a different city, he said.
“We’re not asking that the court not set any bail because we recognize the seriousness of the charge,” Gardner said. “But I think the court also needs to consider the fact Mr. Ramirez does not have any criminal history, and the purpose of setting bail is to give the person who’s charged an incentive to obey the court’s order.”
Gardner told Judge Cameron Mitchell that his client does have ties to the community, has spent some time here and, if he makes bond, would live with family in Prosser and get help from his brother in finding a job.
The lawyer also said Ramirez is diabetic and, though he’s getting insulin shots in jail, the diet he’s been given is not recommended by his doctor or approved for his condition.
Mitchell asked Ramirez where he was living before the incident.
Ramirez, through Spanish-speaking interpreter Sylvia Garza, said he’d been with his brother for months. He then added, “I was in California for a month, but prior to going to California I was living with my brother, and I came back.”
Mitchell decided bail should remain at $500,000 because Ramirez is a possible flight risk and “a significant danger to the community.”
After the hearing was over, Ramirez’s brother looked at the cameras and flashed a peace sign as he walked out.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; email@example.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer