Ivan Ramos left behind a damning print of his right hand in the blood of William McDermott before fleeing the scene of a double murder, Montgomery County District Attorney James “Jed” Conboy said in his opening statement in Ramos’ double-murder trial.
Ramos is charged in the deaths of Cheryl Goss, 46, and McDermott, 56, in McDermott’s apartment at 359 Locust Ave. in Amsterdam on March 2, 2012. His trial started Tuesday with jury selection.
Ramos was escorted into Montgomery County Court on Wednesday morning under the gaze of much of McDermott’s family. Living up to his street name, “Big Man,” Ramos towered over the two guards helping him out of his shackles.
Before the 12 jurors and two alternates filed in, Ramos complained to Judge Felix Catena that “I’ll never get a fair trial in Montgomery County. Some of the jurors have personal relationships with the McDermott family and with the district attorney.”
Catena rejected the complaint and moved on with opening statements.
“Let me take you back to March 2 of last year,” Conboy said, describing how investigators say Ramos came to McDermott’s apartment around 4:30 a.m., brutally slashing McDermott to death and dragging him from the hallway before bursting through a chain-locked bedroom door to kill Goss, as well.
“There are a lot of moving parts in this trial,” Conboy said as he laid out the convoluted series of events surrounding the murders and described how the timeline implicates Ramos.
“You’ll hear a lot of witnesses,” he said, before moving on to preview the forensic evidence.
State police investigators say they found partial prints of Ramos’ right hand in McDermott’s blood at the scene, as well as Ramos’ blood on tissues and on a crack pipe. They also found a single set of footprints in the snow outside the back door that matched a pair of Nike sneakers found in the apartment of Patrina Ramos, Ivan’s wife, at 222 Woodrow Road.
“In the snow around the prints, they found specks of blood,” Conboy said, “both McDermott’s and Ramos’ blood.”
In response, Ramos’ attorney, Mark Juda, reminded jurors the murder scene was a “drug haven” and people were constantly coming in and out, leaving prints.
“Improper techniques were used to gather and examine the evidence,” he said. “The police had Ramos in mind right away. They weren’t even looking at anyone else. There is no way they were going to allow the forensic evidence to implicate anyone but Ramos.”
Jacky Agalla, a nervous 16-year-old, was the first witness to take the stand. At the time of the murders, he lived next to Patrina Ramos and heard the couple arguing the evening of March 1.
“He said he was going to kill someone,” Agalla said.
Miguel Quinoes, a witness known on the street as “Chocolate,” said he attended a party with Ramos, smoking crack cocaine with several others at McDermott’s apartment a few hours before the murder took place. He said Ramos asked him in Spanish if he knew anyone who would be profitable to rob that night.
“But I don’t do that sort of thing,” he said.
A few other witnesses took the stand, mostly corroborating Conboy’s account of the events. The examination suggested a timeframe for the murders between 2 a.m., when McDermott kicked everyone out of his apartment, and around 5 a.m., when a neighbor heard Ramos return to 222 Woodrow Road.
In that time, Conboy argued, Ramos could have gone back to McDermott’s apartment and committed the murders.
It is unclear at this point when the trial will wrap up, as Conboy said a key witness could not be located.