A suspected voyeur is accused of using his cellphone to take pictures up the skirt of a young woman seated at the Columbia Center mall’s food court.
Leopoldo Ramirez Murillo, 46, was chased down by a witness and, while being detained, allegedly tried to smash his phone on the ground.
Ramirez Murillo pleaded innocent Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court to one felony count of voyeurism.
His trial is set for Oct. 17.
Rebeca and Emmett Page were in the food court when they noticed Ramirez Murillo arrive about 4 p.m. Aug. 20, according to court documents.
Rebeca Page told Kennewick police that she kept a close eye on the man, because he sat close to her children and she was concerned that he might try to grab them.
Her husband was speaking to the young woman when she noticed Ramirez Murillo pointing his cellphone up her skirt, documents said.
She noticed Ramirez Murillo “repeatedly tapping on his phone with his thumb, where she assumed the camera shutter button was while the phone was angled” toward the victim, court documents said.
Rebeca Page loudly told her husband and the young woman what she was seeing.
Emmett Page then got out of his seat to confront Ramirez Murillo, who also got up and left the food court, documents said.
Emmett Page physically detained the suspect, so he could not leave the mall, and was assisted by another man who saw what was happening and could translate for Ramirez Murillo between Spanish and English.
It was as they were waiting for police to arrive that Ramirez Murillo threw his phone in an apparent attempt to break it, documents said.
A bystander grabbed the phone and held it for officers.
After his arrest, Ramirez Murillo admitted to investigators that he was using the phone to take pictures of the young woman’s “intimate area,” documents said.
Ramirez Murillo allegedly said he was not able to check his phone before being caught, so he didn’t know if he got any photos.
He is in the Benton County jail on $7,500 bail. He also has an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.