January 30, 2018
On January 19, 2018, Judge Kenneth Melikian sentenced Manuel Ovidio Ramos-Munoz to 183 years to life for the brutal June 11, 2015, sexual assault of a 22-year-old Macedonian exchange student in South Lake Tahoe.
The young woman, who had only been in the country for a little more than a week, was sitting on the front steps of her hotel room talking on the phone when Ramos-Munoz snuck up behind her and put a knife to her throat. Ramos-Munoz dragged the victim across the street into a dark parking lot, behind large metal containers at the rear of the parking lot. He threatened to kill the terrified victim if she did not remain silent. Once concealed behind the large containers, Ramos-Munoz repeatedly and violently physically and sexually assaulted the victim, causing injuries to her head, face, and body.
Ramos-Munoz was convicted by jury on November 8, 2017, following a three-week trial presided over by Judge Melikian. The jury found Ramos-Munoz guilty of seven felony counts, including kidnapping for the purpose of committing a sexual assault, as well as six additional counts and numerous special allegations relating to the subsequent sexual assault of the victim with the use of a knife.
Before handing down the 183 years to life sentence, Judge Melikian told Ramos-Munoz that, having heard all of the evidence in the case, he was prepared to sentence Ramos-Munoz to the maximum term provided under the law. Judge Melikian called Ramos-Munoz's actions on June 11, 2015, "beyond reprehensible" and stated that on the day of the crime Ramos-Munoz had "put the victim in hell", commenting that it was a hell she had probably not yet escaped.
The case was investigated by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, as well as the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Jamie Pesce and Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexander, with the assistance of Detective Doug Sentell, Investigator Ken Barber and Victim Witness Advocate Yolanda McGillivray.
"The victim showed tremendous strength and courage throughout the investigation and trial. She faced the man who brutally physically and sexually assaulted her in court, and with incredible poise and bravery, recounted for the jury the most horrific experience of her life," stated El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson. "Due to her strength and bravery, the jury convicted the defendant and he will spend the rest of his life where he belongs, in prison."