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Man Guilty of Murder in Huntington Beach Case

October 15, 1998|DANIEL YI

A man accused of killing a Huntington Beach resident last year and wounding another in an apparent case of mistaken identity was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder.

Manuel Ruiz, 20, of Gardena confronted the two victims after his girlfriend mistakenly pointed out one of them as the man who had threatened her with a gun.

Ruiz's girlfriend, Yaneta Herrera, 17, was allegedly approached by an armed man. She called Ruiz, who came to meet with her, and after the two got a firearm, they went in search of the man, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jim Tanizaki, who prosecuted the case.

The couple ran into Guadalupe Ramirez, 31, and Carlos Guerrero, 23, in front of their apartment in the 8000 block of Saru Circle in Huntington Beach. Herrera pointed to Ramirez as the man who had approached her, and Ruiz confronted them, Tanizaki said Wednesday.

But the man the couple were seeking had already gone inside, the prosecutor said. Ruiz fatally shot Ramirez and wounded Guerrero.

In a separate trial last month, Herrera was convicted of first-degree murder for her part in the crime and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, Tanizaki said.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Borris convicted Ruiz on Tuesday in a nonjury trial. Ruiz faces 35 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 6.

Tanizaki said the defense did not dispute the fact that Ruiz was the killer but contended that he had acted without premeditation, which would carry a lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Deputy Public Defender Dennis Sakai could not be reached for comment.

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