A Tacoma man who got away with murder for more than 20 years had his day of reckoning Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court.
David A. Ramirez, 60, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Sandra, and was sentenced to 14 years, seven months in prison. He tearfully begged forgiveness from the victim’s family before Judge Brian Tollefson imposed the sentence.
“He said he couldn’t live with himself anymore,” deputy prosecutor Phil Sorensen said.
For years, Tacoma police suspected Ramirez had killed his 36-year-old wife at their South End home. Detectives just didn’t have the evidence to prove it.
A guilty conscience might have undone him.
Over a two-week period in January, Ramirez told his son, his current wife and a friend that he killed Sandra Ramirez, court records show.
Police got wind of his admissions and interviewed him when he was released from the hospital after a suicide attempt. Ramirez confessed to starting the fire that killed his wife, court records show.
Sandra Ramirez‘s body was discovered the night of Oct. 12, 1991, inside a burned-out garage in the 100 block of South 64th Street. Police had gone to the home hours earlier because of a report of vandalism inside the detached garage, court documents state.
Witnesses told officers David Ramirez had assaulted his wife and a man who lived in the detached garage. Both had head wounds and were bleeding, court documents report. The two declined medical aid, and Sandra Ramirez refused to tell police who had hurt her.
About three hours later neighbors called police back to the house because they were concerned for Sandra Ramirez‘s welfare.
“In addition to the assault, neighbors also heard Ramirez threaten to kill Sandra,” charging documents state. “When police arrived, they found the front door of the residence ajar and saw signs of a struggle inside the home.”
The home’s garage was on fire and, after firefighters put out the flames, investigators found Sandra Ramirez‘s body inside.
Investigators ruled the fire was arson, court documents state, and the Medical Examiner’s Office determined Sandra Ramirez was alive when the fire started and ruled her death a homicide.
Detectives questioned David Ramirez, but he said he’d been with his children or relatives at the time of the fire. The other man had been at the hospital and was eliminated as a suspect in Sandra Ramirez‘s death.
David Ramirez had been convicted in Texas of attempted murder after clubbing Sandra Ramirez on the arms and legs in 1985 and throwing a sickle into another man’s back.