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Uncertainty over whether Richard Ramirez would face trial in new slaying cases

Serial killerDespite the new investigation into Bay Area slayings connected to "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez, it remains unclear whether the serial killer would ever stand trial in the cases.

San Francisco police announced Thursday that DNA evidence had linked Richard Ramirez, the Southern California serial killer, to the 1984 slaying of a 9-year-old girl. Detectives this week took DNA evidence from Ramirez, who is on death row at San Quentin State Prison, and said they are building a case against him.

But officials have not said whether Ramirez would stand trial -- even if authorities find enough evidence to charge him.

Ramirez was long considered a suspect in the 1985 slaying of a 66-year-old man, Peter Pan, in San Francisco's Lake Merced district. The man's wife was also attacked but survived.

That attack occurred during the series of murders Ramirez committed in Southern California. After he was arrested, L.A. prosecutors charged him with crimes here, and he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

But Ramirez was never charged in that San Francisco attack.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the SFPD long considered Ramirez a prime suspect in the 1984 slaying of chef and restaurant owner Masataka Kobayashi. Again, no charges were filed.

Ramirez was convicted in 1989 of 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. But, delayed by problems in getting him a lawyer and preparing the voluminous trial transcript, Ramirez's direct appeal was not heard by the California Supreme Court until June 2006. His convictions and death sentence were affirmed two months later.

Ramirez is continuing the appeals process. If he is charged with additional killings, it remains unclear whether authorities would take him off death row to face new trials. After Ramirez was convicted of the Southern California killings, San Francisco prosecutors decided not to charge him in the Pan case.

The unsolved case of the young girl's killing was reopened five years ago when Police Inspector Holly Pera recalled it from her days as a young patrol officer.

"That's part of the reason why the case was relooked at," Pera said during a news conference. "It's the type of case -- as a new officer, a case involving a little girl -- that you can't forget."

On April 10, 1984, Mei Leung was found dead in the basement of a residential hotel in the Tenderloin district, police said. Investigators did not release details about the slaying.

Police said Mei lived at the hotel with her family. Before her death, she and her 8-year-old brother were seen walking home from a friend's house.

At the time, Ramirez was staying at two hotels in the general area, said Deputy Chief David Shinn.

Mathew Gabriel, the DNA technical leader at the crime lab, said numerous items from the scene were tested, and one resulted in a "cold hit" when run through a national database. The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) holds about 1.2 million profiles of convicted offenders, and arrestees from past felonies.

The DNA sample from the crime scene will now be compared with the new DNA sample from Ramirez to confirm the cold hit, Gabriel said.

--Shelby Grad and Ruben Vives

Photo: Richard Ramirez in 1985. AP

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Uncertainty over whether Richard Ramirez would face trial in new slaying cases

Comments () | Archives (37)

I remember seeing Ramirez in 1985 I believe. It was in Arcadia, Ca.early evening.He was walking in the middle of the street, dressed in black, including a Jack Daniels Whiskey T-shirt, with engineer boots, a black cat on his shouolder, and a young child on a bike following him closely. Shortly thereafter, maybe a week or two, he killed a school teacher on Naomi Street.The guy gave me the creeps then, and he gives me the creeps now.

You silly Californians. You have so many people on death row in California and how many do yall actually execute. I read off a random web article that California executed just 13 prisoners in 37 years. That's a slow year for us. We here in Texas don't actually have that much larger of a death row. We just get it done. That being said, Texas very likely executed an innocent man in 2004 when it put Cameron Todd Willingham to death for the death of his three daughters. They died in a fire which the police ruled as an arson with faulty evidence. At least a dozen independent fire inspectors have since examined the evidence and claimed that they believe that the fire was an accident after all. All this goes on and yet, Rick Perry, our esteemed frat boy governor still claims that Texas did not execute an innocent man. Beside this point though, the government doesn't get much out of the death penalty. It is ineffective in preventing murders since the vast majority of people who commit murder are first time offenders who commit these heinous acts in a drunken rage. The government just proves itself to be a bigger meaner thug than any serial killer. Richard Ramirez killed many people but his death count is miniscule in comparison with the number of people our collective state and federal government have put to death. By allowing these deaths to happen we give the government the authority to take a life which leads to the slippery slope of them kicking down people's doors and taking the lives of innocents caught in the crossfire. A life in prison is not pleasant and is most definitely a punishment. Richard Ramirez is most definitely a dangerous man but the government would not accomplish anything by killing him.

Move Ramirez to the front of the "to be executed" queue and get on with it. Let Richard Allen Davis be right behind him. There is no doubt of the guilt of those two ... I'm sure there are others, but this pair are rare works who need to be dispatched to hell asap.

The animal thug should have been hung years ago. It is sinful that the animal thug was even given food, water, and shelter when it only wastes America's precious resources. It is shameful the animal thug was not hung, beheaded, quartered, or just plain guillotined for his horrendous crimes against humanity. I'd rank this up there somewhat close to Charly Manson and his misfits. Californians have no respect for each other because they don't even respect innocent human life. If they did, you'd see tens of thousands of nooses and giving murderers and rapists their due.

Several articles have quoted “The unsolved case of the young girl's killing was reopened five years ago when Police Inspector Holly Pera recalled it from her days as a young patrol officer.” This statement is not true. The SFPD crime lab reopened the case five years ago because they were awarded a grant to reevaluate cold cases.

This man killed my grandmother's lifelong best friend, Joyce. I astounded, more than appalled that this man was not put on "fast track" for the death-penalty. If we can get out vaccines that "might not work or be good for us" but we're gonna use them anyway because we're so scared of having influenza, then why can't we "fast-track" a CONVICTED SERIAL MURDERER to his penalty? Where's the logic on importance? All the victims, their families and friends have been grieving for YEARS!! That fate is much worse than the "potential" of swine flu! FAST-TRACK death penalty should be considered for the most heinous, and horrible people like Richard Ramirez. My grandmother is 88 and she needs peace NOW!! in knowing her best friend's killer is gone for what he has done to her and so many others.

This guy has been on death row for 20 years? Why hasn't he been taken care of? Why are tax payers having to keep him alive for 20 years instead of just giving him the injection or whatever passes for capital punishment these days.

Just turn him over to the inmates they will take GOOD care of him.

So take DNA samples from him. Then torture him until you find out everything he has done. Then grind him up into bite-sized pieces and use him to fertilize the prison lawn.

Why hasn't he been executed?? We've done his dental work because his teeth were rotting. Why have we been taxed to keep him alive. And now spend more money and use our courts on him? NO NO NO

I certainly don't condone what Richard did in any way,shape or form,but putting him or any murderer to death isn't a punishment. A true punishment is making these people sit in a 6x9 cell year after year with no priviledges and no freedom. When they're dead and gone,they feel nothing. They need to be alive and suffer...paying the consequences for what they have done. Many do want to be put to death so they don't have to suffer and live like that,but they should have to live every day like that...that's the true punishment! In Richard's case,he welcome's death and believes that he is satan's right hand man and has a place at satan's table,so-why give him what he wants? That's not a punishment!

I actually sent him a letter but he didnt write back...You might say im an idiot for doin so,but it wasnt as a fan though,it wasnt hate mail either,I was asking him questions regarding his well bein,i guess you could say.I doubt he even recieves fan mail in abundance anylonger.We have to realize we cant go back in time and stop him from commiting those horrendous crimes,so i say we forgive and forget though in your opinion im sure that wouldnt be humane or sane...So one might question the sanity of me,i assure you it has already slipped from my grip..

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