On Friday, Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin blasted state and federal policies for enabling an illegal alien to avoid deportation and brutally rape and beat to death a 64-year-old Air Force veteran, Fox News reports.
Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, 29, an illegal immigrant from Durango Canatlan, Mexico, is accused of joining Jose Fernando Villagomez, 20, and breaking into the Santa Maria home of Marilyn Pharis at 9.45 a.m. on July 24, where they allegedly smashed the sleeping woman in the head with a claw hammer, then strangled her and raped her with a foreign object. Pharis managed to call 911, then died days later at the Marian Regional Medical Center, according to Christianity Today (via the Santa Maria Times).
Martin said bluntly, “I think this is a national issue–it starts with administration and their policies. You can draw a direct line to this governor and Legislature. I am not remiss to say that from Washington, D.C. to Sacramento, there is a blood trail to Marilyn Pharis’ bedroom.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) argued that despite Ramirez’s arrest on July 16, it had not issued an immigration detainer, saying that the lack of a detainer was “based on the agency’s enforcement priorities after a thorough review of his case history showed he had no prior deportations or felony criminal convictions.”
Yet in the last 15 months, Ramirez was reportedly arrested six times on various charges including sexual assault, possessing methamphetamine and weapons and driving without a valid license.
Pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge, he was released July 20. ICE claims that the agency asked Martin’s department to notify them if Ramirez was released but Martin did not inform them when he released Ramirez.
Martin differed, stating that a Santa Barbara Superior Court judge informed his office that the original charge was dismissed “in the interest of justice” once Ramirez pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor. On Friday, Martin snapped, “And you know what we had to do? We had to sign him out. That is the problem, not just in Santa Maria – it is all over the U.S. ICE can point fingers, but the thing is it starts at the top. When federal and state fail, it falls to local law enforcement and we are seeing the brunt of this.”
Pharis had served with the U.S. Air Force since 1974, and Martin said when she was attacked, she “fought back with all her strength even while receiving repeated blows and being left for dead.”
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley will discuss seeking the death penalty for the two suspects with other law enforcement officials and Pharis’ family. Ramirez is represented by Deputy Public Defender Lori Pedego, who asked that mental health staff in County Jail evaluate Ramirez, according to the Santa Maria Times.