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'Night Stalker' Survivor Picks Out Ramirez in Courtroom

March 12, 1986|From Associated Press

A survivor of a "Night Stalker" attack picked out defendant Richard Ramirez in court Tuesday as the man who shot her and fled from her apartment building moments before she found her roommate slain.

Maria Hernandez, who was wounded in the hand, said Ramirez was the man who crept up on her with a gun on March 17, 1985, as she was about to enter her condominium in suburban Rosemead.

"(I heard) a noise from behind me," Hernandez, 30, testified. "I turned around to see what the noise was. I saw a man; he was pointing a gun at me. . . . He started walking towards me."

She said the man didn't say anything as he pointed the gun "right up at my face. He pointed it in my face and shot me. . . . I put my hand out for protection."

She said she remembers hearing a shot and feeling "a cross between pain and heat on my right hand. I fell to the ground behind the door."

After she fell to the ground, Hernandez said, her assailant entered the condominium. She said she got up and ran stumbling through an alley to the front of the building.

'Please Don't Shoot Me Again'

At that point, she said, she heard a "loud boom noise," and moments later confronted her assailant again, as he left the building.

"I hid behind a car that was between us," she said. "He then noticed me and pointed the gun at me again. . . . I said, 'Please don't shoot me again."'

"He put the gun down and ran," she said.

Hernandez said she then ran into the condominium and found her roommate, Dayle Okazaki, 34, on the kitchen floor.

"I bent down on my knees," she recalled, her voice beginning to break. "I wanted to see if she was still alive."

"Was she?" Halpin asked.

"No," Hernandez replied.

"Do you see the man who shot you?" asked the prosecutor, Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. P. Philip Halpin.

"Yes, I do," Hernandez said, glancing toward Ramirez, who sat at the counsel table in a blue prison jump suit. "The young man in blue."

Ramirez sat slumped with his head resting on the back of his chair. He pulled nervously at his cheek but showed no other reaction.

Hernandez testified at a Los Angeles Municipal Court preliminary hearing to determine whether Ramirez will stand trial in Superior Court on Los Angeles County charges of 14 murders, and 54 other felonies.

Ramirez, 26, a drifter from El Paso, is also charged in Orange County with attempted murder and seven other felonies, and San Francisco police have linked him to a murder

Police say some of the victim's bodies were mutilated, and satanic slogans were scrawled on the walls of some of their homes.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Daniel Hernandez, who is not related to the witness, Hernandez said she helped a Sheriff's Department artist prepare a composite drawing of her assailant. The drawing included a baseball cap with the logo "AC-DC," a "heavy metal" rock group. Authorities also claim the logo has certain "satanic" implications.

Spotted Him in Jail Lineup

Hernandez acknowledged that the drawing did not closely resemble Ramirez. The first time she saw the photograph of Ramirez that had been distributed to reporters on Sept. 30, the day before his arrest, she thought that he was not the person who shot her. But at a Sept. 5 lineup at County Jail, when she saw Ramirez, she said, "I said to myself, 'That is the man that shot me.' "

The witness claimed she was not influenced by the wide-scale publicity surrounding Ramirez's arrest Aug. 31.

Outside of court Daniel Hernandez claimed that sheriff's deputies used "suggestive" techniques in getting Hernandez and other victims and witnesses to identify Ramirez during the lineup.

"They suggested as to which person the witnesses should identify," Daniel Hernandez said.

'Very Upset, Very Pale'

However, Halpin said, "I think they're trying to hook you," in reference to the defense attorneys' claims that the lineup was tainted.

After Hernandez's testimony, Halpin called on Sheriff's Deputy John Powell, the first law enforcement official to arrive at the condominium. Powell said he found Hernandez about 11 p.m. He said "she was very upset, very pale, and she was bleeding from the right hand."

He tried to calm her and had her sit on a living room couch while he checked to see whether Okazaki was alive. But he found no pulse and no breathing.

He said he and his partner contained the scene as paramedics arrived. Paramedics pronounced Okazaki dead of a gunshot wound in the head and treated Hernandez, who was taken to a hospital a short time later.

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