Man attacked in Stanislaus County jail might get new attorney

05/05/2014 4:08 PM

05/05/2014 7:00 PM

A man facing murder charges might get a new attorney because the current attorney also represents one of the three fellow inmates who are accused of attacking him last month in a Stanislaus County jail facility.

Joe Luis Ramirez is accused of murder in the 2009 Modesto shooting of a 10-year-old boy and a man killed in what authorities have called Norteño gang retaliation. Michael Platt is Ramirez’s defense attorney in the double-homicide case.

On April 20, Ramirez was stabbed multiple times with a “shank,” or makeshift knife, at the Public Safety Center on Hackett Road. Authorities say David Ferrel, Joseph Jauriqui and Maurilio Vasquez, three fellow Norteño gang members, attacked Ramirez at the jail.

Monday morning, Platt told a judge that he might not be able to represent Ramirez because he also represents Ferrel in a separate case. Ferrel is accused of murder in the 2009 shooting of two men in north Modesto, and his trial is scheduled to start Oct. 20.

But Platt said he wanted to research the issue before the court decides whether to remove him from the case and appoint another attorney to represent Ramirez.

Because the attack on Ramirez is believed to have involved fellow gang members and inmates, there was additional security in the courtroom Monday. There were five bailiffs in the courtroom with Ramirez during the brief hearing.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Marie Silveira scheduled Ramirez to return to court June 10 for another pretrial hearing. Ferrel also is scheduled to return to court June 10, when Platt is expected to tell another judge whether he can continue to represent Ferrel.

In the jail attack, Ferrel, Jauriqui and Vasquez are charged with attempted murder, aggravated mayhem and participation in the Norteño street gang. The defendants are scheduled to return to court May 20 for a pretrial hearing.

Ramirez’s double-homicide case remains stalled. His preliminary hearing has not been rescheduled. He is being prosecuted separately from his co-defendants, Aaron Aguilera and Randy Sifuentez.

Authorities believe Ramirez, Aguilera and Sifuentez are responsible for the deaths of Epifanio Ramirez Jr., 10, and Jason Cyphers, 29, in the 100 block of Santa Barbara Avenue in Modesto’s La Loma neighborhood. The child was hit by gunfire intended for his father, who was injured but survived the shooting.

The trial for Aguilera and Sifuentez is scheduled to start June 3.

The two other men accused of attacking Ramirez also face murder charges in separate cases. Jauriqui is one of seven defendants accused of killing three people in an east Modesto home in 2012; prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Jauriqui and two other defendants. The court has not scheduled a trial in that case. Vasquez is accused of shooting two men in the airport neighborhood, killing one of them, in 2008. His trial is scheduled to start Nov. 18.

All of the defendants in these criminal cases remain in custody.

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