A man accused of beating and raping a 64-year-old California woman is in the country illegally, police said. The woman, Marilyn Pharis, died Saturday, eight days after she was brutally beaten with a hammer and then sexually assaulted at her Santa Maria home.
Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, 29, an undocumented immigrant, was charged with attempted murder, first-degree burglary with a person present, assault with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object and resisting a peace officer. The charges also include special allegations, including use of a deadly weapon in a sex offense, causing great bodily injury in a sex offense, assault with a deadly weapon on an elderly person and a violent crime against a vulnerable person.
Ramirez was arrested before Pharis died, and the district attorney’s office is now considering whether to file murder charges against him, according to the Santa maria Times.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Has Been Arrested 4 Times Over the Past 2 Years on Drug Charges & Was on Probation
The suepct, Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, was on probation at the time of his arrest, police said. He was arrested four times by Santa Maria police over the past two years on minor, drug-related charges, the Santa Maria Times reports.
Ramirez was also charged with violating his probation.
He was not in the country legally, but officials have not said if he had been deported or if he was facing deportation at the time of the incident.
“We have a citizen that lost her life, its serious, when you look at it, we don’t care what the circumstances were, we’re going to do what we need to do to get our facts and bring this individual to justice”, Santa Maria Police Commander Kendall Green told KEYT. “if there are extenuating circumstances that arise as a result of that, that he’s an undocumented immigrant, then we will let the proper authorities address those issues when they present themselves.”
2. He Broke Into Pharis’ Home While She Was Sleeping, Police Say
Police say Ramirez broke into Pharis’ home on North Dejoy Street in Santa Maria on July 24 while she was sleeping, KEYT reports.
Ramirez is accused of attacking Pharis with a hammer and causing severe injuries. Ramirez fled from the home after the attack, police say, leaving Pharis with severe injuries. Police said she was able to call 911 and Ramirez was found hiding inside another home nearby that he broke into.
3. A Second Suspect Also Faces Sexual Assault & Attempted Murder Charges
On August 4, police charged a second man, 20-year-old Jose Villagomez, with sexual assault and attempted murder in connection to the attack, KEYT reports.
He was arrested on July 28 on unrelated charges.
4. Pharis Suffered a Coronary Embolism in the Days After the Attack
Pharis was taken to a local hospital for treatment. On Saturday she suffered a coronary embolism and was not able to be saved, the Santa Maria Times reports.
An autopsy is being conducted and police have not yet determined if her death was caused by injuries suffered during the attack.
5. Her Family Called Her a ‘Gentle’ & ‘Strong Woman’
Pharis worked at a satellite tracking facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Her family told KCOY she turned 64 in April and was a “gentle” and “strong woman.”
“We’re proud of her because she fought back and she fought back enough that the police were able to identify her attacker,” her sister-in-law, Pamela Frame, told KCOY.