Alleged MS-13 gang member and triple murderer Edwin Ramos told his jailers he was affiliated with the gang and worried about retribution, the deputies testified in court Tuesday.
A judge later ruled such statements can be admitted as evidence at Ramos’ forthcoming trial for the slayings of Tony Bologna, 48, and two of his sons, Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16. Police say the Bolognas were mistaken for rival gang members in a June 2008 shooting in the Excelsior district.
The defense claims Ramos quit the notoriously violent Salvadorean gang more than two years earlier — an assertion that police and prosecutors dispute. Ramos says an active gang member who was a passenger in his car fired the shots that struck and killed the Bolognas.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Deputy Patrick Crane said he was moving Ramos to a cell away from other inmates when Ramos offered a spontaneous statement. “I can’t go to protective custody,” Crane said Ramos told him. “My gang might have problems with me if I do.”
Outside court, one of Ramos’ attorneys, Gail Gutekunst, said her client could not possibly have said “my gang,” the way the deputy described it.
“No one says that,” she said.
The defendant’s attorneys had opposed prosecutors’ efforts to present that and similar statements to a jury.
Deputy Kyle Curry also testified Tuesday that Ramos told him in a jail intake interview that he was a gang member. “Mr. Ramos said, ‘I am a Sureño — can’t be with Norteños,’” Curry said.
Rival gang members are routinely housed separately in the jail, but no explanation was provided for why deputies jailed Ramos separately from other inmates.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Eileen Hirst said arrestees are given a “fairly extensive interview” at the jail to determine placement, including the nature of the alleged crime, gang membership and prior criminal history. “We make a determination where is the safest place to house an individual,” she said.
Ramos also indicated that he was affiliated with a gang following his March 2008 arrest for gun possession, Deputy Terry Marquardt testified.
“Mr. Ramos said that he hung around with the Sureños, and that if the Norteños recognized him, they would attack him,” Marquardt said.
Defense attorney Marla Zamora pointed out that Ramos responded to a question specifically about whether he was “affiliated” with a gang, and not whether he was an active member at the time.
Under cross-examination, Marquardt acknowledged that Ramos identified himself as “an associate” of a gang, and not a member.