Standing with his head bowed, Night Stalker suspect Richard Ramirez was arraigned Tuesday on a single murder count and seven other charges stemming from two late night attacks in early May in the San Gabriel Valley.
Ramirez was charged with murder, burglary, robbery, rape, sodomy and forced oral copulation in the May 14 shooting death of William Doi, 65, of Monterey Park and an attack on Doi's wife. Because of the allegation of special circumstances--that Ramirez killed Doi while committing the other crimes--he could face the death penalty.
In a second attack that had not previously been publicized, Ramirez was accused of robbing and burglarizing the Monrovia home of 85-year-old Clara Cecilia Hadsall on May 9. The woman, who was living alone, told authorities that a man appeared in her bedroom at 2:30 a.m., shined a flashlight in her eyes and robbed her of cash and jewelry.
Meanwhile, authorities in San Francisco said they have formally charged Ramirez, a 25-year-old drifter, with the Aug. 17 murder of accountant Peter Pan, 66, and the attempted murder of his wife, Barbara.
And in Orange County, the district attorney's office said it expects to charge Ramirez today with attempted murder, rape, robbery and burglary in connection with an Aug. 25 attack on a Mission Viejo couple.
At a press conference before Ramirez's arraignment in Los Angeles Municipal Court, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner said investigators are still developing evidence in "a number" of murders, attempted murders, burglaries, robberies and sexual assaults that tentatively have been linked to a nighttime intruder police have dubbed the Night Stalker.
Although the precise numbers have been in dispute, authorities believe that the assailant, who frequently entered victims' homes through open doors or windows, may have committed as many as 14 murders and nearly two dozen other crimes, including sexual assaults and burglaries, since early February. Most of the attacks occurred in the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys.
"Assuming the evidence warrants," Reiner said, "we will be filing additional charges (against Ramirez) within the next couple of weeks."
At the request of deputy public defenders David Meyer and Bernadette Everman, Los Angeles Municipal Judge Elva R. Soper allowed Ramirez to delay entering pleas until Monday. Captured Saturday by East Los Angeles residents after he allegedly attempted to steal two autos, Ramirez is being held without bail in Los Angeles County Jail.
A Los Angeles law enforcement official said Tuesday that Ramirez is not talking to detectives about the crimes. He appears calm and relaxed, is sleeping and eating well, and is "recovering nicely" from injuries he suffered when he was captured, officials said. He has refused requests for interviews.
Sheriff's deputies took unusual steps to protect Ramirez at his arraignment Tuesday, screening spectators with metal detectors before admitting them to Soper's courtroom on the fifth floor of the Criminal Courts Building. The usually empty benches in the gallery were packed with reporters, photographers and spectators.
Asked why his office did not file charges in other cases that police have linked to the Night Stalker, Reiner said, "The evidence that we have presently with respect to the two cases that we have filed on . . . is clear . . . There is more than sufficient evidence for us to file.
"In terms of the rest of the case, understand that the suspect was arrested just over the weekend," Reiner said. "There is a mountain of evidence that has to be collated, has to be analyzed, has to be investigated, there is scientific investigation that is still going on. Within the next couple of weeks, I expect it will all be pulled together and decisions will be made as to which cases will be filed."
Outside Soper's courtroom, Deputy Dist. Atty. P. Philip Halpin, who is prosecuting the case, said the charges filed against Ramirez in the Doi and Hadsall incidents are based on physical evidence. Neither surviving victim has yet been asked to identify Ramirez as her assailant, Halpin said.
However, Halpin said he expects that authorities will stage a lineup soon for victims of crimes believed committed by the Night Stalker.
Halpin said he expects that authorities in San Francisco and Orange counties will wait until court proceedings in Los Angeles are complete before moving to put Ramirez on trial in their jurisdictions.
"I would anticipate, assuming that we get going, that they will wait until we're through," Halpin said.
Information that emerged Tuesday about the events that led to Ramirez' identification as the suspected Night Stalker indicated that new computerized technology and old-fashioned police work both played a role. But it was not clear which proved more important.