A Sanger man who is accused of threatening five prostitutes with a stun gun and handgun to force them to have sex with him will stand trial on 18 felony counts of rape, sodomy, kidnapping and other sex crimes, a judge ruled Friday in Fresno County Superior Court.
In making his ruling, Judge W. Kent Hamlin said Carlos Ramirez’s conduct toward the women was despicable and brutal.
“Clearly, the defendant extracted joy by bullying and abusing prostitutes,” Hamlin said.
The judge made his ruling after hearing two days of testimony at Ramirez’s preliminary hearing. Several police officers and detectives testified that Ramirez would troll the streets of Fresno, looking for prostitutes. He would then taken them to a rural area and sexually assault them.
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In some cases, Ramirez threatened the woman with a stun gun, prosecutor Tonya Lee said. In other cases, he pointed a handgun at his victim’s face, the judge said.
Ramirez’s attorney, Roger Nuttall, told Hamlin that Ramirez was only engaging in simple prostitution and consensual sex. Nuttall said none of the women were hurt with the stun gun or gun and Ramirez often took them back to where he picked them up.
But Hamlin told Nuttall that his characterization of what took place was “somewhat outrageous.”
“He took them to rural areas and treated them less than human. He is a menace to the public. I don’t want him on the streets,” the judge said in ordering Ramirez to be held in Fresno County Jail in lieu of $3 million.
Clearly, the defendant extracted joy by bullying and abusing prostitutes.
Judge W. Kent Hamlin
In court, the five victims were identified only by Samantha, Tracy, Jezell, Myisha and Raeja. They did not testify.
A second assailant was involved in at least one of the attacks, but he has never been identified.
Police Sgt. Diana Trueba, the lead detective in the case, testified that Ramirez targeted Belmont Avenue and Blackstone Avenue – two areas that have high incidents of prostitution.
Ramirez worked for a construction company and had no criminal history before his arrest, police said.
At a November 2013 news conference, police Chief Jerry Dyer said the first rape happened in July. Ramirez was arrested two months later, jail records show.
Dyer gave this account of what led to Ramirez’s arrest:
In the five rape cases, Ramirez drove a 2012 black Chevrolet Silverado with a large toolbox in the truck bed.
The truck was identified through a police video camera in central Fresno, near downtown. A photo from the camera and a partial license plate number from one of the victims led to a traffic stop in the city on Sept. 17 and Ramirez’s arrest.
In the truck, police found a stun gun and two of the victims’ cell phones. Ramirez was also wearing the same clothing described by a victim from a rape the night before.
Dyer said the state Department of Justice crime lab also was instrumental in solving the case. In three of the cases, there was a clear link matching DNA from Ramirez, Dyer said.
“We’re very fortunate that we were able to identify who this individual was and get him off the street, because there’s no doubt that people like this do not stop until they are caught,” Dyer told reporters at the 2013 news conference.