16 September 2019 :
Court: Death-row inmate David Ramirez should get new chance to show lawyer failed him. Ramirez, now 62, Hispanic, was sentenced to death in Maricopa County on December 18, 1990 for the stabbing deaths of his girlfriend, Mary Gortarez, and her 15-year-old daughter, Candie, in Gortarez’s Phoenix apartment on May 25, 1989. A 3-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there is a “reasonable probability” that Ramirez’s sentencing would have been different if his attorney at the time had presented evidence of the defendant’s low IQ and a history of abuse, sexual assault, neglect and developmental issues. In his most recent appeals, however, Ramirez has argued that the public defender who represented him at trial – who had never handled a capital case before – failed to investigate and present evidence that would have weighed in his favor. The attorney agreed, saying in later court filings that she was unprepared to represent “someone as mentally disturbed as David Ramirez, especially in a capital case.” She relied on the psychologist’s finding that Ramirez was “well within the average range of intelligence.” But they psychologist said he would not have reached the findings he did if the attorney had presented him with fuller records on Ramirez’s background. Those would have led to different tests that showed Ramirez with an IQ in the 70 to 77 range. The appeals court said the evidence presented at Ramirez’s sentencing painted a “relatively innocuous” picture compared to what later emerged. The appeals court ordered the case back to district court to more fully investigate Ramirez’s claim of an ineffective attorney.