Ramon Torres Hernandez, 39, was pronounced dead at 6:38 p.m., 26 minutes after the lethal dose was administered. His lawyers had filed an appeal earlier Wednesday, but it was denied, paving the way for his execution for the murder of Rosia Maria Rosado in 2001.
Final confession sought from death row murderer
since then, prosecutors have also tied Ramón Hernandez, 39, to the murders of two young girls and say he could be responsible for even more killings.
But Rico Valdez, who serves as the appellate division chief for the Bexar County District Attorneys Office, fears Hernandez may take the answers to those unsolved murders to the grave since prosecutors are nearly out of time. It is the eleventh hour for Bexar County prosecutors seeking a confession on at least two more murders from Hernandez and they are doing everything they can in the next 24-hours to get him to talk.
“We’re still hopeful in the hours that we have left that we’ll have that opportunity, but there are no guarantees,” explained Valdez.
Valdez has been working to get a confession from Hernandez on two unsolved murders ever since the DA’s office first learned about the cases.
According to Valdez, “Jennifer Taylor and Laura Gamez, they disappeared or they were last seen in November 9, 1994 and their bodies were discovered April 15, 1995 the next year.”
The young girls’ bodies were discovered on a ranch belonging to Hernandez’ uncle in Bandera County one year after they were killed.
“Unfortunately, because the bodies had been exposed to the elements we weren’t able to obtain any DNA linking Hernandez directly to the crime.”
But he added Hernandez’ style of killings from the murder and rape of Rosado from 2001 and two young cousins: Sarah Gonzales and Priscilla Almarez in 1994 matches the murders of Taylor and Gamez.
The DA’s office was able to obtain indictments for Hernandez in the killings of those two cousins dating back to 1994. The deaths of Taylor and Gamez are still considered unsolved.
The DA’s office has once again reached out to Hernandez through his attorney in recent days to get answers in those unsolved cases. He has declined speaking to them again. However, prosecutors remain optimistic that he will change his mind.
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But the man prosecutors have called a serial rapist and murderer is known to have other victims.
Rosado, whose body was found in a shallow grave near Loop 1604 and UTSA Boulevard, was the first of five victims authorities connected to Hernandez or named him as suspect. It was his only conviction.
The single mom, 37, was snatched from a bus stop near Highway 90 and Military Drive. She was bound with tape, had her head covered and was driven to a Culebra Road motel, where she was killed.
By the time Hernandez was linked to Rosado’s homicide, the families of Sarah Gonzales, 13, and Priscilla Almares, 12, had been searching seven years for answers in the young cousins’ killings.
“I can’t explain the feeling; I can’t explain the hurt,” said John Gonzales, father of Sarah and uncle to Priscilla. “Unless you walk in my shoes, you just can’t imagine it. You’re kind of numb. There’s disbelief it happened.”
For Gonzales, there also was disbelief that police had found his daughter’s killer. But after they told him about DNA evidence that linked Hernandez to the crime, he finally could stop searching.
Hernandez also is the main suspect in a 1995 Bandera County case involving two teens reported missing about a month before Sarah and Priscilla.
At the time of all of the homicides, Hernandez was on parole for breaking into a house and allegedly raping a woman.
While Hernandez wasn’t convicted in the killings of Sarah and Priscilla, Gonzales said justice was done because authorities announced they closed the case using DNA.
Gonzalez said no one from their family planned to witness the execution.
Hernandez, 41, declined to comment. His attorney, Robin Norris, requested a commutation of Hernandez’s sentence to life without parole, arguing that his client was a party to the crime but didn’t rape or kill Rosado.
Norris pointed to Hernandez’s co-defendant, Santos Minjarez, as the main culprit.
Minjarez also was sentenced to death in a separate trial. He died of natural causes in Jan. 2012 before his execution was set.
Hernandez was afraid of Minjarez and he also was withdrawing from addictive medication prescribed as part of his parole, Norris said.
The medication was to treat anxiety and post traumatic stress disorders that developed after Hernandez watched his father get shot in front of him, he added. That made Hernandez more susceptible to Minjarez’s suggestions, Norris said.
“Clearly he’s responsible in some measure for this,” Norris said. “But in the past, the governor has commuted a sentence if the person didn’t commit the offense by his own person.”
The status of the commutation request wasn’t available. Both Hernandez and Minjarez pointed to each other as the murderer in their separate trials, according to previous stories. Prosecutors pointed to Sarah and Priscilla’s cases to show a pattern.
“They were like sisters,” Gonzales said. “They disappeared together. They found them together and we buried them together.”
The two girls last were seen on Timbercreek Drive the evening of Dec. 16, 1994. They were expected at their church for caroling, Gonzales said. Their bodies were discovered in Rodriguez Park the next day.
At least the girls were found quickly, Gonzales said.
That wasn’t the case with Laura Gamez and Jennifer Taylor, both 15 when reported missing two days apart in November 1994, previous reports state. Their bodies weren’t found until April, 1995, according to previous stories.
After San Antonio police linked Hernandez to Rosado, Sarah and Priscilla, Bandera County authorities revealed he was the prime suspect in the deaths of Laura and Jennifer.
An autopsy couldn’t determine rape, but they had been strangled, a previous report states.
The Express-News was unable to find the families of either teen.
Bexar County First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg said recently that investigators still hoped to talk to Hernandez about the unsolved cases.
Whether Rosado’s family planned to attend the execution wasn’t known. Rosado’s sister declined to comment. Attempts to reach Rosado’s daughter weren’t successful.
She was 14 when her mom was killed and the first to report her missing after Rosado failed to come home from a night shift at a telemarketing firm April 1, 2001, court documents said.
“Mom, please call and let me know you are OK,” read a sign she posted in her neighborhood, a previous report said. “I miss you, please come home. Love Patricia.”
Hernandez’s girlfriend Asel Abdygapparova led police to Rosado’s body five days after she was abducted.
Then 26 and a University of Texas at San Antonio exchange student from Kazakhstan, Abdygapparova was pregnant with Hernandez’s child, who would be born after her arrest.
She was with Hernandez and Minjarez when Minjarez spotted Rosado as a possible robbery victim, previous stories said.
They grabbed her from the bus stop and took her to the motel, she told police. She left to buy a shovel and bleach while Rosado was raped.
Police first considered Abdygapparova a witness but later arrested her. Prosecutors wanted the death penalty.
She feared Hernandez and was under control, she said during testimony in her defense. Jurors sentenced her to life in prison but an appeals court overturned that decision in 2007. She’s still in Bexar County Jail awaiting a new trial.
Her attorney didn’t return calls for an interview request.
Gonzales takes no comfort in Hernandez’s execution. It took many years of praying to forgive Hernandez and to tame the anger he felt.
“It festers inside of you; it eats you up and can totally destroy you” he said.
He and knows the pain Hernandez’s mother will feel. He does not wish that on anyone, he said.
“I did tell his mom that one day she would walk in my shoes,” Gonzales said. “I said to her when he did go to prison she would have the opportunity to write him or go visit him. Now for me, for my family, when we want to go see (Sarah and Priscilla), we can’t physically see them. We go anyway. … They are just shells now. Their spirits are in Heaven.”