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Ramirez Hearing Set to Begin Feb. 24 : Judge Sets Feb. 24 Ramirez Hearing Date

Times Staff Writer

Over their strong objections, a judge on Thursday ordered attorneys for Night Stalker suspect Richard Ramirez to be ready to begin Ramirez’s preliminary hearing by the end of February.

Los Angeles Municipal Judge Candace D. Cooper rejected the lawyers’ argument that they need at least seven months to prepare a defense for Ramirez, 25, who is charged with 14 murders and 54 other felonies in Los Angeles County. He faces another murder charge in San Francisco.

“The case involves an enormous amount of felony counts,” Arturo Hernandez, one of Ramirez’s two lawyers, told the judge. “We could not possibly be ready anywhere before the first week of May.”

“I think the amount of time you’ve requested is excessive,” Cooper replied as she set the hearing date for Feb. 24. “At this time, I’m simply going to order you to proceed, order you to prepare.”

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The preliminary hearing, which is expected to last at least two months, will allow Cooper to determine if the district attorney’s office has enough evidence to hold Ramirez for trial.

Held Without Bail

Ramirez, a drifter originally from El Paso, is accused of being the assailant who terrorized communities from Mission Viejo to San Francisco earlier this year by breaking into homes, usually in the early morning hours, and attacking the sleeping occupants. He was arrested Aug. 31 in East Los Angeles and is being held without bail in Los Angeles County Jail.

In contrast to his last court appearance, when he shouted “Hail Satan!” as he was being led from the courtroom, Ramirez appeared calm and confident Thursday. Dressed in a blue jail jump suit and chained at the wrists and ankles, he tapped his right foot and occasionally smiled and winked during two half-hour court sessions. He appeared to be growing a goatee.

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As he was being ushered into a holding cell at the end of the hearing, Ramirez paused and grinned as he passed Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Detective Gil Carrillo, one of the lead investigators on the Night Stalker case, and then called out the Spanish slang word “Orale,” as he walked by.

Ramirez’s attorneys later described the comment as a friendly greeting, in the nature of “hi,” or “hello,” although some Spanish speakers said the word can carry the connotation of a challenge.


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