Crime

Modesto teen, mother in court after arrest on failure to appear

A teenage boy and his mother appeared in court Wednesday, a day after they were arrested on failure to comply with a court order. The boy was ordered to testify in a Modesto murder trial, and his mother was ordered to bring him with her to court.

Owen Ramos and his mother, Dina Harper, did not show up to court Tuesday morning as ordered. Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves issued bench warrants for Ramos and his mother.

As soon as the judge issued the bench warrants, prosecutors notified Modesto police, Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira told the judge Wednesday. Officers soon found Ramos and his mother at their home and took them into custody.

“It wasn’t like they had to chase them down,” Ferreira told the judge.

Ramos and his mother are listed as witnesses in the trial of Taylor Koplen, Jacob Segura and Juan Garcia. There’s no indication the boy’s mother will be called to testify. The defendants are charged with murder in the stabbing of 18-year-old Tylor Crippen, who was killed in an east Modesto park.

On Sept. 25, Ramos was called to the witness stand to testify in the trial. While being questioned by Deputy District Attorney Jeff Laugero, Ramos abruptly got up and walked out of the courtroom.

Harper was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail. She later was released on her own recognizance and ordered to return to Reeves’ courtroom Wednesday. Her son remained in custody at the county’s Juvenile Hall and was ushered into the courtroom with inmate shackles on his wrists and ankles.

Ramos said he forgot he was supposed to return to court Tuesday and assured the judge he will comply with the court’s order. “I apologize for my actions,” he told the judge.

Reeves told Ramos she understands that he is reluctant to testify, but that he has to complete his testimony. The judge said the prosecution and the defense want to hear what he has to say, and the court has to ensure the defendants receive a fair trial.

“It is going to happen, one way or another,” the judge said about the boy’s testimony. Reeves then released Ramos on his own recognizance.

Harper can’t make her son come to court, she told the judge, and said she didn’t understand why she needed to return to court.

The judge told Harper that she clearly had ordered Harper to return to the courtroom Tuesday with her son. The judge appointed an attorney to represent Harper and explain the issue to her.

“I can’t let this go,” Reeves told Harper. “This is a serious matter that has to be dealt with.”

The judge ordered Ramos and his mother to return to court Monday, when the trial resumes with testimony from the boy. Testimony for the rest of this week was put on hold because Mark Sullivan, Segura’s attorney, was ill Wednesday.

Ramos and his mother each face a misdemeanor charge of contempt of court, but those charges could be dropped if they comply with the court.

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