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Court advises accused cop shooter

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Glenwood Springs attorney Ted Hess appeared at Sergio Esteban Ramirez’s advisement hearing in a police officer shooting case, saying law enforcement has the wrong man.”My sense is that the (Garfield County) Sheriff’s Office needs to stop congratulating itself and they need to find the real shooter,” Hess said.Ramirez, 20, was arrested on Sunday afternoon and charged in the July 29 shooting of a Glenwood Springs Police officer.Hess said he’d been contacted hours before the hearing by members of Ramirez’s family who produced a list of 11 alibi witnesses. Eight or nine Ramirez supporters showed up at the hearing. They said Ramirez was with them at the Roaring Fork Inn and Lodges the night the police officer was shot.Ramirez was brought into custody after being stopped Sunday while riding in a vehicle at the 116 exit off Interstate 70. Friday night, Ramirez was arrested after a drug raid at Roaring Fork Inn. According to Sheriff Lou Vallario, Ramirez and two other men were arrested on drug charges. Ramirez bonded out on those charges on Saturday and was arrested Sunday afternoon in connection to the shooting case after a $1 million warrant was issued for his arrest.Magistrate Lain Leoniak advised Ramirez of his rights at the hearing. He’s charged with attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence. She left the $1 million in place and granted a prosecution request to temporarily seal the entire court file except for the advisement sheet and register of actions.Family and friends including Lorenza Tapia and Christina Ruiz said Ramirez, also known as Smokey, spent money at the Mr. Amigo restaurant with Anthony Villegas and didn’t pay the tab. Garfield County Deputies arrested Villegas on an outstanding felony drug warrant and said they believe he knows something about the officer shooting. Villegas, known as Speedy, allegedly violated the terms of his probation in a theft case.Ruiz, who is Ramirez’s cousin, said she served Ramirez and Villegas at Mr. Amigos. She told the two to pay the tab because her boss had withheld the money from her wages. She added that Ramirez threatened Villegas for his share of the money. Ramirez was arrested the next day.”Speedy apparently identified Smokey and I guess that’s the basis for the arrest,” Hess said. “There is definitely a real question about whether they have the right man here.”Ramirez has lived most of his life in the area, works as a mason and has a pregnant girlfriend, Hess said. Hess asked for a reduction of bond in light of the alibi witnesses and Ramirez’ “strong ties” to the community.Vallario said that both Ramirez and Villegas are American citizens. He said he heard detectives saying that between the two of them they had what appeared to be gang-related tattoos such as three dots between the thumb and index finger and a “Sur 13″ tattoo.Hess asked that the witnesses be allowed to testify regarding probable cause for the case, but he was denied due to the scope of advisement hearings.Affidavits of the investigation are part of the sealed file. Ninth Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cheney argued that public viewing of the documents could compromise the ongoing investigation.Hess objected to that request.”Law enforcement’s performance itself is being called into question and shouldn’t be hidden from public scrutiny,” he said.According to Vallario, more arrests will be made in the case. He added that he believes that a second suspect directly related to the July 29 shooting is still at large.The Glenwood police officer who was shot has yet to be named. A bulletproof vest helped save his life and being shot in the chest from 10 to 20 feet away. The shooting occurred near the Glenwood Springs Airport at an automobile impound lot.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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