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Ramirez Admitted He Was the Stalker, Officer Says

Times Staff Writer

Accused Night Stalker Richard Ramirez admitted to police shortly after he was taken into custody that he was the feared serial killer, according to sealed testimony from Ramirez’s preliminary hearing that was made public Wednesday.

“I want the electric chair. They should have shot me on the street,” Los Angeles Police Officer George Thomas quoted Ramirez as having said while being held in an interview room at an East Los Angeles police station. “I did it, you know. You guys got me, the Stalker.”

“Then he stated, ‘Hey, I want a gun to play with. Russian roulette. I’d rather die than spend the rest of my life in prison. Can you imagine the people caught me and not the police?’ ”

Then, Thomas said, Ramirez hummed a portion of the song “Night Prowler” by the rock band AC-DC and banged his head on a table several times as Thomas watched and took notes. Ramirez’s statements and actions came spontaneously without any questioning or prompting from police, the officer said. Reached late Wednesday, Ramirez’s attorneys denied that their client made the statements.

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Thomas’ testimony, given late last month during a closed court session, was unsealed Wednesday by Los Angeles Municipal Judge James F. Nelson after the conclusion of Ramirez’s nine-week preliminary hearing.

On Tuesday, Nelson ordered Ramirez, 26, to stand trial on 14 murder charges and 36 other felony counts stemming from the series of brutal attacks that terrorized Los Angeles County last year.

Nelson, after hearing testimony from more than 140 witnesses, ruled that sufficient evidence was presented to try the lanky drifter from El Paso on charges of 14 murders, 5 attempted murders, 15 burglaries, 5 robberies, 4 rapes, 3 acts of oral copulation and 4 acts of sodomy between June, 1984, and August, 1985. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Ramirez was arrested after being surrounded by an angry mob of residents in East Los Angeles on Aug. 31, 1985, the day after authorities first made public a photo of the Night Stalker suspect.

According to the previously sealed testimony, Ramirez first made voluntary statements shortly after being placed in a police car at the scene of the arrest. Ramirez had not yet been informed of his constitutional right to remain silent, Officer Daniel Rodriguez testified, but the suspect was also not asked any questions by officers before he made his admissions.

‘It Is Me!’

According to Rodriguez, the suspect “shouted out (the window). He said, ‘It is me! It is me!’

“He (then) looked in a downward direction, and he kind of leaned over towards his knees. He stated, ‘I am glad you got me.’ ”

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Rodriguez said Ramirez continued, “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done. . . . I know they’re going to send me to the electric chair.”

After pausing for a moment, the suspect began crying and stated, “Look at me. . . . Why don’t you just go ahead and kill me? . . . Go ahead and shoot me. Kill me. . . . I just feel like dying,” Rodriguez testified.

After arriving at the Hollenbeck police substation, Ramirez told the officer that items of his, including a bag containing a gun, were stored at the downtown Greyhound bus depot. Deputy Dist. Atty. P. Philip Halpin called Rodriguez and Thomas to the witness stand primarily to buttress his ultimately successful effort to have the bus depot items admitted into evidence at the preliminary hearing. While the pistol was not traced to any of the killings, several live rounds of ammunition found in the bag were tied in court to a gun used in three shootings attributed to Ramirez.

Placed in Interview Room

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The handcuffed Ramirez was placed alone with Thomas in a six-by-eight foot interview room after arriving at Hollenbeck station.

During the next 15 minutes, Thomas testified, Ramirez made several statements including, “Of course, I did it. You know that I’m a killer. So what. Give me your gun. I’ll take care of myself. You should. I’m a killer. So shoot me. I deserve to die.”

Ramirez also laughed and said, “You think I am crazy, but you don’t know Satan,” Thomas testified. Then the suspect, who friends have testified was a self-proclaimed devil worshiper, began humming the song “Night Prowler” by AC-DC.

The hauntingly prophetic song includes the lines, “Was that a noise outside the window? What’s that shadow on the blind? As you lie there naked like a body in a tomb, suspended animation as I slip into your room. I’m your night prowler. . . .”

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During cross-examination, Thomas said he had researched the rock band during the course of the Night Stalker investigation, listening to “Night Prowler” 80 to 100 times.

Identify It Right Away

“So when you heard him humming it, you could identify it right away?” Thomas was asked by defense co-counsel Daniel Hernandez.

“Yes,” he replied.

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“That should discourage anybody from police work,” quipped Judge Nelson.

“That’s good music, judge. They make big bucks. More than I make,” Hernandez rejoined.

After release of the transcript to the news media Wednesday, Nelson said he had no authority to keep it sealed.

“It probably could hurt the right to a fair trial, but what can’t?” he said. “The county is big enough so we can get a jury that’s impartial.”

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Halpin and defense co-counsel Arturo Hernandez agreed that the statements will make it more difficult to choose an impartial jury.

“I’m not saying it’s going to prevent him from getting a fair trial, but it’s going to make it tougher to pick a jury,” Halpin said.

Arturo Hernandez, meanwhile, questioned the truthfulness of the officers’ sworn testimony.

“Our client denies having said that. At the time of the preliminary hearing he felt in essence it was a big farce. So he decided not to testify at the preliminary hearing to deny what the officers claimed he said,” said Hernandez. “This testimony wasn’t credible . . . they were very evasive.”

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