5-Yr-Long Gay Murder Case Gets Mistrialed

Juan Ceballos / Image via The Desert Sun

A mistrial was just declared in the murder trial of a gay college student.

30-year-old Miguel Ramirez has been accused of first-degree murder for shooting 20-year-old Juan Ceballos on July 13, 2014. Ceballos, a College of the Desert student, was outside his California home when he was shot with a shotgun. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Surveillance footage shows a gold-colored pickup truck following Ceballos in his silver sedan around on the night of his murder. At the time of the killing, Ramirez drove a gold Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, according to KESQ News Channel 3.

Ramirez, who was 25 at the time, was arrested eight days later and prosecutors say Ramirez, who worked with Ceballos at a Pizza Hut, planned the attack. The Pizza Hut’s manager gave a testimony saying that the two were often at ends with each other. The manager once witnessed the two squaring off at work with Ramirez holding a knife and Ceballos holding a stun gun.

A complaint filed in Riverside County Superior Court says that the murder was motivated by Ceballos’ “actual and perceived disability, gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and association with a person and group with one and more of these actual and perceived characteristics.” As such, Ramirez could be facing life in prison on hate crime charges. Ramirez also could have been up for the death penalty, but the prosecution chose not to pursue capital punishment.

Miguel Ramirez / IMage via Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

The investigation and court case into the murder has been ongoing for the last five years. Part of the reason for this trial’s slow progression is that Ramirez’s mental competency was questioned. This led to a recent trial for the murder resulting in a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a verdict after deliberating for a week.

The jury was tasked with voting on Ramirez’s competency. As the Desert Sun reports:

“Ramirez was evaluated after his competency fell into question and Hall said two court-appointed experts had different opinions on whether Ramirez should stand trial. Thus, a competency trial with a jury was arranged.”

Unfortunately, the jury was just as unsure as the experts. Now that the jury has failed to make a verdict, Miguel Reamierz will have a second hearing tentatively scheduled for August 23, according to the Riverside County District Attorney office’s spokesperson John Hall.

So the five-year-long murder trial, that has barely progressed in all that time, is slowly crawling forward.

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