Jurors are deliberating the fate of a 25-year-old Rodeo man who is accused of murdering a marijuana dealer during an attempted robbery at the dealer’s apartment in Emeryville three years ago.
Prosecutor Tim Wellman told jurors in his closing argument on Monday that Anthony Ramirez planned to rob 38-year-old Chad Clarke at his apartment in the 5500 block of Beaudry Street shortly after 1 a.m. on April 20, 2008, because a friend told him that Clarke kept large quantities of marijuana and cash at his home and he thought Clarke would be an easy target. Instead, Ramirez wound up murdering Clarke after he discovered that Clarke was armed with a gun, Wellman said.
The prosecutor said Ramirez, 31-year-old Ricco Earl, who was acquainted with Clarke and knew he was a marijuana dealer, and two other men drove from Rodeo to Emeryville on April 20 so that Ramirez could rob Clarke. The prosecutor said Ramirez was armed with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson gun that Earl had bought at a Big 5 store in Pinole only a few weeks earlier.
While the other men waited outside in a car, Ramirez went to Clarke’s apartment and got Clarke to open his door by using a ruse in which he told Clarke that someone had damaged his car, which was parked out in front, Wellman told jurors. When Clarke opened his door, Ramirez noticed that Clarke had a gun, so he fired a single shot and killed him, Wellman said.
Wellman said Ramirez, Earl and the other two men then fled without taking any money or marijuana from Clarke’s apartment. Earl, one of the other two men, and two people who had visited Clarke shortly before he was killed all identified Ramirez as the shooter, Wellman said. “The evidence in this case is overwhelming and beyond a doubt” that Ramirez is the person who killed Clarke, Wellman said. But Ramirez’s lawyer, Patrick Hetrick, said the prosecution failed to prove that Ramirez is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and suggested that Earl might have killed Clarke and framed Ramirez to avoid a lengthy prison term.
Earl testified against Ramirez but Hetrick alleged that Earl lied on the witness stand and said jurors should question his credibility. Earl was also charged with murder in connection with Clarke’s death, but Wellman said Earl pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and conspiracy to commit residential robbery two weeks ago and was promised a state prison term of 14 to 16 years in exchange for his testimony against Ramirez.
Wellman said Earl could not have been the person who killed Clarke because Earl never left the car that the suspects used to drive to Clarke’s apartment. The prosecutor said Earl “had every incentive to give truthful testimony” because his plea bargain could be set aside and his murder charge reinstated if Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon, who is presiding over the case, determines that he lied on the witness stand. Jurors will resume their deliberations Wednesday morning. They have had one full day of deliberations so far.
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