A Cherokee County man was sentenced to 50 years in prison for shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend.
Jose Diaz Perez, 51, of Jacksonville, was convicted of killing Martha Caselin Ramirez on March 17, 2012, after a six-day jury trial, according to a news release from the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office.
Perez was dating Ms. Ramirez until about two weeks prior to her murder, when she left him due to his excessive drinking and controlling behavior, according to the DA’s office.
Perez went to Ms. Ramirez’s home, which she shared with her three sons. The evidence showed that just after 1 a.m., the defendant fired his 9-mm semi-automatic pistol at Ms. Ramirez three times while she sat in his truck. Ms. Ramirez was hit twice in the chest, one bullet piercing her heart, lung and kidney.
After hearing the gunshots, her son, Daniel, went to the door of the home looking for his mother.
Perez told jurors he drove through Jacksonville to land he owned off of County Road 4201 and dumped Ms. Ramirez’s body, along with her clothing and personal objects.
When asked if Ms. Ramirez was still breathing when he left his property, Perez replied, “I don’t know. I really don’t,” according to the release.
He also gave detectives several statements trying to blame his victim for the murder, claiming she attacked him first and also claiming she practiced witchcraft on him. While testifying, he admitted both statements were lies.
“To the defendant, Martha Ramirez became disposable, no longer human once she rejected him, District Attorney Rachel L. Patton said in her closing arguments. “He didn’t care that he was ripping her out of the lives of her children and grandchildren.”
Perez also claimed he accidentally shot Ms. Ramirez, and the jury heard testimony from his ex-wife Barbara Ward. Ms. Ward said she was married to Perez in January 1986 but left him because he was controlling and treated her children poorly. He visited Ms. Ward one night at her parent’s home and shot her in the jaw, right shoulder and right arm when she refused to return to him.
“The facts of that shooting were eerily similar to the facts in the current murder case, with the exception that Ms. Ward refused to get in the defendant’s car,” the news release reads.
Perez told the judge he didn’t know that his ex-wife was shot. He said he was shooting beside her because she yelled at him and, “I guess she just ran into the bullets. … I emptied the gun out so most likely she ran into the bullets,” according to the news release
“The jury did care and rejected Jose Perez’s absurd attempts to deceive everyone by finding him guilty of murder within 35 minutes and handing down a 50-year sentence,” District Attorney Patton said. “This sends a strong message that domestic violence will not be tolerated and victims’ voices will be heard.”
The six-day trial was heard before Judge Bascom Bentley III. District Attorney. Patton and Assistant District Attorney Deborah D. Dictson prosecuted the case. Perez was represented by Jacksonville defense attorney Chris Day.