SUNNYSIDE, Wash. – Victor Javier Ramos’ family wanted to see one of the men responsible for his killing spend as much time as possible behind bars.
While acknowledging the family’s pain, Yakima County Superior Court Judge David Elofson said he trusted the judgment of the attorneys who weighed the evidence and risks of going to trial in sentencing Adrian Bueno to 7.5 years in prison as agreed in a plea deal.
“I’m going to follow it, even though it is your request and mine that he do more time,” Elofson said at Thursday’s hearing. “I have to trust the analysis of the attorneys.”
Bueno, 30, entered an Alford plea to a single count of second-degree manslaughter in Ramos’ 2021 death in a drive-by shooting in Sunnyside. The Alford plea allows Bueno to maintain his innocence while conceding that there was enough evidence to convince a jury to find him guilty.
He was originally charged with first- and second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and drive-by shooting in Ramos’ death.
Those charges, along with a drunken-driving charge in Grandview Municipal Court, were also dropped as part of the agreement, Deputy Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Jamil Gill said.
The 90-month sentence falls in the middle of the sentencing range based on Bueno’s criminal history.
Gill said the deal was “the best way to proceed” with the case, as there were issues with identification.
“There was a lot of risk to the state. There was some risk to the defendant,” Gill said. “It balances out.”
James Kirkham, Bueno’s attorney, said there were other issues with suppressing evidence that would have affected the state, but he said Bueno also considered the risks of a jury trial and chose to go with the certainty the deal offered.
Ramos, 28, was found with a gunshot wound to his chest in the 1200 block of Roosevelt Court around 4:15 p.m. Jan. 31, 2021, according to court documents. Ramos died from his wound at Astria Sunnyside Hospital.
Witnesses told police that someone drove by the house, and a passenger in the car fired over the car’s roof at Ramos and the house, the affidavit said. The house was hit at least four times, according to police, and there were three people inside.
Using witness statements and surveillance video, police identified Bueno as the driver and Francisco Rudy Gallardo, 43, as the shooter, court documents said.
Bueno is a Sureño street gang member, while Gallardo associates with Sureños, according to court documents.
Gallardo remains at large, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Bueno turned himself in to U.S. Border Patrol officers in Yuma, Arizona, in August 2021 after being in Mexico.
While police said Ramos met the criteria for being a documented gang member, his oldest sister told Elfoson that he was not.
“My brother had no issues with gangs. He liked to wear red,” Erica Serfin said in her victim impact statement. She said his favorite football team was the San Francisco 49ers.
Norteño gang members typically wear red clothes.
Serfin and her sisters, Maria and Cecelia Ramos, asked Elofson to sentence Bueno to the maximum allowed by law.
Bueno “gets to get out and get on with his life,” Serfin said. “We get to stare at a box, and videos and pictures of him.”
Serfin said she has not deleted the last voice messages her brother left, and had his picture tattooed on her arm. She and her sisters also wore T-shirts with Ramos’ picture on them and the words “JUSTICE FOR VICTOR RAMOS” on the back.
“If it were up to us, it would be life,” said Maria Ramos. “(Bueno) doesn’t deserve to be out with his family and watch his kids grow.”
Bueno’s family attended the hearing but did not speak on Kirkham’s advice. Bueno also declined to make a statement when asked by Elofson if he had anything to say about the sentence.
Kirkham sought a five-day furlough for Bueno so he could put his affairs in order and sign accounts over to his wife before he goes to prison. Bueno would spend it on home monitoring, Kirkham said.
Gill said the fact that Bueno went to Mexico after the shooting and was picked up in Arizona seven months later made him a flight risk.
Elofson denied the request, saying that Bueno’s criminal record demonstrates he had a life of violence. Bueno has prior convictions for second-degree assault in superior court, and eluding, second-degree arson, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission, second-degree theft, third-degree assault, and second-degree malicious mischief in juvenile court.
“I note that Victor Ramos had no opportunity to get his affairs in order,” Elofson added.
Bueno’s conviction Wednesday is his second strike under the state’s “Three Strikes Law,” and Elofson warned him that a third serious offense would mean he’d go to prison for the rest of his life.
“There’s nothing we can do to bring Mr. Ramos back, but there are things you can do to make your life of value,” Elofson said.
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