MARTINEZ -- A solemn, empathetic Contra Costa judge on Friday sentenced a Sacramento man to 26 years in prison for the shooting death of a man described by friends and family members as unfailingly happy and helpful.
Jesse Lonnie Evans was sentenced for killing 22-year-old Anthony Ramos in October 2011 during what was supposed to be a routine drug deal -- a transaction those close to Ramos claimed was a one-time attempt to earn some money for his family. Evans accepted a plea agreement for voluntary manslaughter with a gun enhancement offered by deputy District Attorney Jason Peck because of "problems of proof" that Peck said could have undermined a trial.
"I'm so, so sorry for your loss," Judge Patricia Scanlon told the nearly three dozen people who traveled from Sacramento in support of Ramos, many of whom pleaded for a harsher sentence for Evans. "He is getting the maximum he can get based on what he pled to. At trial, it's possible he could have walked out the door. So it is with much sadness that I cannot honor your request."
As Evans sat at the defense table, staring straight ahead, and five armed bailiffs stood by, a dozen people addressed the court. Ramos' sister, Victoria Ramos, described having to choose her brother's clothes and eight pallbearers for his funeral.
"Twenty-six years really seems lenient," she said, crying. "We are the ones who have to live a life sentence without Anthony."
Monica Del Rio, Anthony Ramos' girlfriend since the two were high school freshmen, said she went from a decorated, successful employee at a bank to someone who almost got fired because she couldn't keep her mind on her job.
"I was a whole new person," she said. "When Anthony died, I also died."
Cesar Ramos, Anthony Ramos' uncle, said his nephew got him a job during the downturn in the economy.
"Anytime anyone in our household was in a bad mood, he would somehow make it better," Cesar Ramos said. "He was the kind of person who brought people together."
Peck said Evans' three accomplices provided a detailed chronology of the night Anthony Ramos was killed. Ramos, the prosecutor said, got into a car Evans was driving intending to sell a pound of marijuana. When Evans drew a gun, Ramos told him, "Take the marijuana, I don't want it."
Evans, Peck told the court, shot Ramos in the head.
Evans and the three accomplices drove from Sacramento to Fairfield, Peck said, where they stopped at a store to buy bleach and trash bags. They continued to Oakland, where Evans called a friend to come see Ramos' body. Eventually, Ramos was dumped near San Pablo and Rodeo avenues, his body stripped of clothing and doused with bleach.
The problem, Peck said, is that accomplice testimony "needs to be supported by evidence independent of the accomplice testimony."
"There was no forensic evidence at all in this case," he told the court. "This absolutely breaks my heart. This is not at all a reflection on Anthony Ramos."
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.