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A unified appellate panel overturned a gang enhancement from Riverside Superior Judge Kelly Hansen’s courtroom Dec. 9.

Jamie Ramirez and Albert Villa were each convicted in October, 2019, of one count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury after they beat a fellow inmate at the Southwest Detention Center, according to the appellate ruling.

The jury found the defendants committed the assault due to their connection with a criminal street gang.

The gang enhancement increased the prison term from 25 to 27 years for Villa, and from four years to seven years for Ramirez, according to the appellate ruling.

Ruling

The panel agreed with the appellates that there was insufficient evidence to support their gang enhancements.

Although Ramirez and Villa had belonged to different gangs prior to their incarceration at the Southwest Detention Center, the prosecution alleged they committed the assault for the prison gang La Eme, according to the appellate ruling. Prosecution did not prove that La Eme was a street gang, and instead proved the gangs the defendants were previously involved with qualified as street gangs.

Defendants had brought a motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence, but Judge Hansen denied the motion, the appellate panel said.

Parties

John Schuck, under appointment, represented Ramirez on appeal. Alan Yockelson, under appointment, represented Villa on appeal.

Associate Justice Marsha Slough wrote the ruling, which Associate Justices Art McKinster and Michael Raphael joined.

Appellate Court Number E074402

Superior Court Number SWF1601096

Read the ruling here.

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