A Fresno man was sentenced Wednesday to 55 years to life in prison for attempting to murder a sheriff's sergeant and two deputies during a standoff outside a northwest Fresno home in September 2010.
Pete Torres Ramirez, 34, and his family asked for mercy, but Judge Hilary Chittick said she could not overlook Ramirez's long criminal record and the fact that he intended to kill law enforcement officials.
"By the grace of God, you were a bad shot," Chittick told a shackled Ramirez in Fresno County Superior Court.
In announcing the sentence, Chittick noted Ramirez's prior record that includes assault with a deadly weapon in 2003 and another assault in 2009.
In October, a jury convicted Ramirez of shooting at Sgt. Brad Christian and deputies Chris Curtice and Jose Diaz on Sept. 28, 2010. Authorities were looking for him because he was wanted in connection with a drive-by shooting.
Deputies went to a home on North San Pablo Avenue near Sierra Avenue after receiving a tip that Ramirez was inside.
During the trial, defense attorney Antonio Alvarez said Ramirez was high on methamphetamine, despondent and wanted to end his life.
"It's a case of suicide by cop," Alvarez told the jury. "He wanted to get shot. There was no intent to kill anyone."
But prosecutor Dennis Lewis said Ramirez walked out of the home with his hands in the air, but holding a handgun in his right hand. The deputies then ordered him several times to drop the gun.
Instead, Ramirez made eye contact with Curtice and "leveled his gun" in the direction of Curtice, Diaz and Christian and fired one round, Lewis said. Christian, Curtice and Diaz fired back and severely wounded Ramirez. The sergeant and deputies were uninjured.
In court Wednesday, Ramirez's family and friends asked the judge to give him a lesser sentence so he could one day return to his wife and four children. "He's a good family man," cousin Anita Vega said. "We all make mistakes. I'm sure he's sorry for what he did."
Ramirez blamed his drug addiction for his predicament.
"I don't have a memory of what took place," he said. "It happened really fast."
Standing up for the victims, Curtice said the shooting still affects him. When Ramirez shot at him, Curtice said his first thought was whether he would get to see his 7-month-old son again.
Curtice also said Ramirez's children would have a better shot at life without him.
"The best thing for society is to put him away," he told the judge. "If he is such a good family man why would he shoot at cops?"
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, email@example.com or @beecourts on Twitter.