Vehicular homicide person of interest has lengthy criminal history

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – He was arrested in connection with the vehicle that may have been involved in a deadly hit-and-run that killed a Cibola High School student.

Juan Carlos Ramirez has had a lot of arrests and a lot of breaks, according to court records.

The search warrant for Ramirez’s latest arrest for a vehicle theft names him as a person of interest in a vehicular homicide. Albuquerque police will not confirm if it’s the same incident that killed 15-year-old Manny Tapia at Coors and Ellison.

A look at his rap sheet shows many of his cases have been dismissed.
In Sandoval County, Ramirez pleaded down two drug possession cases from 2014 to misdemeanors.

Among his nolled cases is a 2017 vehicle theft, which the prosecution said is because of a lack of witness; and a residential burglary, which they said is still a pending case as they wait for DNA results to come back.

“We’re told somebody’s being linked,” 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office Prosecutor Andoni Garrote said. “The DNA is possible belonging to this person. But it is enough to investigate and not enough to convict.”

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office said the fact he was never convicted on those felony charges made it harder for their prosecutors when they had cases involving Ramirez later on.

“I think it would have been a different situation at that plea table. There would’ve been much more time he would’ve been facing,” Michael Patrick with the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office said.

Among Ramirez’s four cases in Bernalillo County, one was nolled in 2016 under former District Attorney Kari Brandenburg.

In 2017, the Bernalillo County DA’s office made a plea agreement consolidating three of Ramirez’s stolen vehicle theft cases to secure his first felony conviction. He got a one-year sentence.

As for Tapia’s hit-and-run case, police released a license plate and pictures of a truck they had been looking for in hopes of finding people who might have information about the incident. The license plate matches the plate in Ramirez’s vehicle theft case.

No one has been charged in the hit-and-run.

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