Teen gets 20 years in murder for hire case

April 15, 2009 4:36:06 PM PDT
Emotions spilled over in a downtown Houston courtroom as a teenager who tried to hire someone to kill his classmate learned his punishment. A judge handed down a 20 year prison sentence to Thomas Ramirez. He was 17 when he was arrested for trying to arrange a murder.[VIDEO: Ramirez family's emotional reaction to sentence]

Screams of disbelief came from Thomas Ramirez's family members as the 18-year-old was sentenced to 20 years for solicitation of capital murder.

Thomas' stepmother Tanya Ramirez said, "My stepson is a good boy. He made a mistake because it was his first love."

Ramirez tried to hire a hit man to kill an ex-girlfriend's friend last year. The sophomore at Pasadena's Sam Rayburn High school thought the 15-year-old girl was interfering in his relationship with an ex-girlfriend. But the classmate he tried to hire instead called Crime Stoppers. Ramirez then tried to hire an undercover police officer.

During the pre-sentence investigation, the judge listened to an audio recording of that meeting between Ramirez and the officer.

Ramirez said on the tape, "You can probably go ahead and stab her in the heart, but that's another thing..."

The undercover officer responded, "That's kind of dirty, though, it's kind of close up, man."

"Yeah," Ramirez agreed. "That's kind of too deep, because your hair follicles and your DNA will be on the knife and then your fingerprints."

"The victim testified, and her mother testified of the fear that they have lived in since they found out that Thomas Ramirez was trying to have her daughter killed," said prosecutor Stephen St. Martin.

Nonetheless, KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy says since Ramirez's attempt failed, a 20 year sentence is a heavy price to pay.

"Outrageous," said Androphy. "Sure, he committed a crime, solicitation of capital murder, but the punishment does not fit the crime."

Thomas' father Cesar Ramirez agreed, "He's not going to last one month. He is not going to last one month. They will test him out. That's just the facts. I've been there."

Ramirez may not have any way to appeal his sentence, and he will likely be eligible for parole in six to ten years.

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