Morning Call Reports:
Judge: Murder charges stand in immigrant beating
Either a sucker punch that knocked down a Mexican man so hard his head bounced off the macadam or a final kick to the side of his head as he lay prone could have caused his death, a Schuylkill County judge has ruled. As a result, third-degree murder charges are warranted against two teenagers who testimony said delivered the blows, according to the ruling by Judge William E. Baldwin. Also, testimony that a third teen kicked Luis Ramirez's head and torso along with the other two -- so hard it could be heard at least 60 feet away-- is sufficient for aggravated assault charges against him, Baldwin ruled. And testimony that the teens joined in a fight that arose from ethnic slurs is enough to support charges of ethnic intimidation against them -- whether or not a specific threat or slurs were attributed to them, the judge ruled.
Baldwin handed down the ruling yesterday in response to a motion filed this month by Brandon J. Piekarsky, 18, Colin Walsh, 18, and Derrick M. Donchak, 19, all of Shenandoah, seeking dismissal of charges in the July 12 beating because of lack of evidence. Baldwin dismissed only a charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution against Donchak, saying prosecutors offered no evidence at the teens' Aug. 18 preliminary hearing or since to support the count. Baldwin also ruled the three should be tried together. Walsh -- the only one of the three to give police a statement detailing what each did, the ruling says -- had asked for them to be tried separately, saying they will have to blame each other for Ramirez's death and would be denied their right to confront their accusers, but Baldwin rejected that. Ramirez, 25, who had lived in the borough six years, died two days after the beating.