Illegal Mexican immigrant held in rape, murder of Calif. woman was on probation

Illegal Mexican immigrant held in rape, murder of Calif. woman was on probation

One of the two men who raped and murdered a 64-year-old California woman last month is an illegal Mexican immigrant and was on probation at time of the heinous crime, officials said.

Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, a 29-year-old Mexican man who entered the U.S. illegally, along with 20-year-old Jose Fernando Villagomez broke into Marilyn Pharis' Santa Maria home on July 24. They brutally beat Pharis and raped her. Then they attacked her with a hammer. The victim later died in a hospital.

Ramirez was on probation at the time. He was charged two times this year for violating probation, for possessing a knife and drugs. But a Santa Barbara judge allowed him to enter a substance abuse center in lieu of jail. County Jail officials claimed that U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) didn't issue an immigration detainer that would have allowed local police to hold him for deportation.

Police charged Ramirez with attempted murder, first-degree burglary and rape. The charge of attempted murder could be upgraded to murder as the victim has died. He is currently being held in Santa Barbara County Jail on $1 million bail.

The second suspect, Villagomez, was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on Tuesday on suspicion of attempted murder and sexual assault. He was already in prison following his July 28 arrest over a probation violation. In May, he allegedly committed battery against a person and was found in possession of banned drugs.

Both suspects are scheduled to appear in court on August 13, 2015.

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