Ramos pleads not guilty in triple murder

July 25, 2008 4:18:30 PM PDT
An accused gang member suspected in the triple slaying of a San Francisco man and two of his sons in June pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder today in San Francisco Superior Court.

Flanked by his attorney Robert Amparan, Edwin Ramos, 21, repeated not guilty three times for each of the three victims -- Anthony "Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16 -- found shot dead in their car the afternoon of June 22 after what police have called a "traffic altercation" in San Francisco's Excelsior District.

Investigators believe Ramos, of El Sobrante, was the shooter and was riding in another car containing as many as three suspects. Ramos was arrested at his home three days later, where police also recovered the car believed to have been used in the murders.

Amparan has denied both that his client was responsible and that he is a gang member.

Amparan also sought a gag order today from Judge Lucy McCabe barring authorities involved in the case from discussing details publicly, after what he described as "vigilante-ism" ensuing from news reports about the killings.

"It is becoming increasingly difficult for him to have a fair trial," Amparan told McCabe, adding that reports about his client's immigration status, alleged gang membership and juvenile criminal record were becoming "national media fodder."

Prosecutors have charged Ramos, a suspected member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, street gang, with three counts of murder and multiple special allegations involving gang membership, firearm use and multiple murders.

McCabe did not make a final ruling on the proposed gag order, which was postponed for a further hearing on the matter July 30, but indicated that there was so far "an insufficient showing that Mr. Ramos' fair trial rights have been jeopardized."

Outside the courtroom, Frank Kennedy, Anthony Bologna's brother-in-law, said of the plea, "I knew that was coming."

Kennedy said he and his family were committed to seeing the court process through "step by step," adding that he continued to "believe in the judicial system in the city and county of San Francisco."

"Certainly it's difficult to sit in the same courtroom with the person who's alleged to have committed three capital murders against my family," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he would like to see prosecutors seek the death penalty against Ramos, but acknowledged that "everybody has their own take" on it.

District Attorney Kamala Harris has previously pledged not to seek the death penalty in San Francisco during her tenure.

"I hope that the District Attorney's Office will change their mind in this case," Kennedy said.


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