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Woman Points to Ramirez as Killer, Rapist

April 15, 1986|From Times Wire Services

A sobbing woman pointed to Richard Ramirez in court Monday, saying he was "the Night Stalker" who raped and sodomized her in a bedroom where her murdered husband lay under a sheet.

The young woman also indicated that the assailant sodomized her 8-year-old son and said he forced her to perform oral copulation on him before he fled with the family's jewelry and money.

The woman frequently sobbed into her hands at the Los Angeles Municipal Court preliminary hearing, which will determine if Ramirez, 26, will stand trial in a string of murders, rapes and beatings that terrorized Southern California last year. Some spectators in the crowded courtroom also wept as the witness struggled to explain the details of her ordeal.

"Do you see that man in the courtroom today?" asked the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Philip Halpin.

"Yes," the woman replied before turning toward Ramirez and pointing her finger directly at him.

"Right there with the blue. That man," she said, referring to Ramirez's blue jail jump suit.

Judge James Nelson asked reporters to withhold the identity of the witness.

The shaggy-haired defendant showed no emotion as she testified. Occasionally during her cross-examination, Ramirez stretched and yawned. His lawyers' efforts to challenge her identification brought even more emphatic statements from the witness.

"Did you see his picture in the newspaper?" defense attorney Daniel Hernandez asked at one point.

"I see him in my house and I see him in a picture and I see him on television everywhere," the woman said, growing agitated. "I tell you I saw this man in my house. He sits there right next to you!"

The woman said an intruder opened the sliding glass door to her living room the morning of July 20, 1985, pulled a gun, and announced, "Bitch, shut up!" She said he tied her up, went to the bedroom and, within seconds, she heard a gunshot. She said the intruder returned, said her husband was dead and then, "'If you don't do what I tell you, I'm going to kill your children.' " Then, "he just picked me up and made me do everything awful," she added.

She said her assailant peered into a room in which her 2-year-old daughter was sleeping, but did not enter after she told him the girl would cry if disturbed.

Demands for Jewelry

The witness described how the man dragged her through the house, frantically demanding that she show him where jewelry was hidden. Each time he found some jewelry, she said, he was not satisfied and wanted more. Twice, she said, he dragged her back to the bedroom where her husband's dead body lay under a sheet, and raped her on the floor.

Once, she said, he left her tied up in the bedroom and went to the room where her 8-year-old son had been awakened by an alarm clock. It was 6 a.m.

While he was in the son's room, she said she heard the boy cry. "It was a very pained cry . . . I could not do anything to help him."

The last thing she recalled was the intruder throwing things into a suitcase and pillowcase. She said he stuffed a sock in her mouth before leaving.

"I freed myself and I went to see my son. . . . He was bleeding. He was swollen. . . . I took my son and I went out for help."

Northridge Attack

Later in the day, Virginia Peterson, 27, testified matter-of-factly that Ramirez entered her Northridge home Aug. 6 and shot her and her husband, Christopher, 38, in bed. Both survived.

When asked by Halpin if the man who shot her was in court, she said, "He's the gentleman sitting over there in the blue jump suit."

Ramirez was silent, but later cracked his knuckles loudly as testimony continued.

The woman said a noise awakened her at 3 a.m. and she saw a tall, skinny man clad in dark clothing standing in the hallway.

"I screamed, Who are you? What do you want? And get out here. I started to curse. At that time, the person said, 'Shut up, bitch. Where is it?' " she testified.

"He took a step forward, lowered the gun. I screamed . . . I saw a red flash coming at me. The bullet hit my head. My face went numb. . . ."

She said she heard another shot and her husband fell back. Then her husband leaped from the bed, and despite a temple wound, chased the intruder down the hall before two shots were fired, one of which found the mark. Her husband continued the chase and "I called out, 'Please don't go! You'll be killed!' "

She said he returned after the intruder had fled. Bleeding from a facial wound, she said, she ran to her 4-year-old daughter's bedroom and emerged with the child in her arms and phoned police: "I've been shot! My husband's been shot! Please help us!"

Leaving the phone off the hook and, too panicked to wait, she said the couple drove to a hospital.

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