Trial Set To Begin For Cold Case Murder Suspect Who Says Victim Raped Her In College
SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — Patricia Norma Esparza, a wife and mother and former consultant to the World Health Organization, is about to go on trial for murder.
Esparza, now 39, is accused of orchestrating a murder plot against a man who was killed in 1995.
Michele Gile, reporting for CBS2, said Esparza turned down a plea deal on an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Gile says the former Santa Ana resident is accused of being the mastermind in a plot to beat, kidnap and murder a man she said raped her in college.
Back in November, Esparza told reporters a plea deal was out of the question.
“Whatever the charges are that they are asking me to plead guilty for, it’s essentially something that I cannot accept because it would be a lie,” said Esparza at the time.
In court Wednesday, Gile reported that three members of law enforcement — past and present — testified that she pointed out Gonzalo Ramirez as the man who she said sexually assaulted her in her dorm room and that she also knew about a plan to lure him to his death.
“The plan was to beat him up, kidnap him, put him in a van, take him out to the shop, beat him and kill him,” said DA Investigator Mike Kendrick.
Esparza’s ex-boyfriend and a third suspect are also facing trial. Gile reported that a fourth defendant has already pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Santa Ana Police said another alleged conspirator committed suicide before charges could be filed.
The case has garnered international attention. A group of local college students — who have actively studied the case — were standing in solidarity in court with Esparza today and called her a victim of the alleged sexual assault.
“She is running Pilates in jail, she is doing writing workshops. She has taken her kindness and compassion into jail with her,” said supporter Caroline Heldman.
The victim’s body was found — stabbed multiple times — on the side of Sand Canyon Road in Irvine back in 1995.
The case went cold until a few years ago. Esparza was arrested for her role in the murder in October 2012.
A year ago, Esparza was offered a deal — spend three years in a state prison in exchange for a guilty plea.