The Woodward News

March 15, 2013

Local official pleased with court's decision

Chris Cooper
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Assistant District Attorney A. J. Laubhan said Thursday he was pleased with Wednesday's Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruling that reversed a judge's decision to suppress evidence against two Guatemalan brothers charged with first degree murder.

District Judge Ray Dean Linder had granted a defense motion to suppress statements given by Julio Juarez Ramos and Isidro Juarez Ramos to police after their arrests. The brothers allegedly confessed to killing Antonio Velasquez in May 2009 in Woodward County.

Linder ruled for the defense because authorities did not first contact the Guatemalan consulate as required by international guidelines.

The appeals court ruling means the statements can be used at the men's trial.

"We were pleased with the decision," Laubhan said. "Ours was the party that appealed it, so that's what we were hoping they would decide."

Defense attorney Newell Wright with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense Services said another appeal is not planned and the case would now go to a jury trial.

Laubhan said the next step would be a hearing on the case as a trial date has not been set. Since the decision was just made on Wednesday, Laubhan said discussions about a hearing date had not been held yet.

The Ramos brothers are accused of strangling Velasquez with a rope on May 16, 2009 over a dispute about a debt. They were arrested in Enid while in Velasquez's car, a Ford Mustang, according to court records, and the also reportedly had Velasquez’s wallet. They were questioned by police and reportedly took investigators to where Velasquez's body had been dumped in a rural area south of Mooreland, according to court records.

The case was delayed a number of times and progress was also slowed by language barrier issues, because they speak a Mayan dialect known as K'iche' and have only limited understanding of spoken Spanish and no understanding of English, according to the court records.

Prosecutors originally sought the death penalty but withdrew it in part due to the language barriers. They are now seeking life in prison for both men.

The Ramos brothers are currently being held in the Woodward County Jail.