Man Sentenced to 45 Years for Murder committed over Debt
On August 17, 2020, defendant Melvin Ramirez-Russel, 39, entered a plea of guilty in front of the Honorable Lisa Michalk presiding over the 221st District Court, for the first degree felony offense of murder, in exchange for a sentence of 45 years in prison. As part of the plea agreement, the State agreed to dismiss two companion Tampering with Physical Evidence cases that were committed on January 29, 2020, the same date that Ramirez-Russel brutally shot 46 year old Gerardo Munoz de la Paz eight times at close range.
The State was prepared to show that on January 29, 2020, the victim was at the defendant’s residence, where a dispute arose over a debt that Russel owed to de la Paz. The defendant shot the victim multiple times in the chest and left arm. The defendant then enlisted the assistance of another individual, who helped Ramirez-Russel attempt to cover-up his crime. Deputies and Detectives from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office promptly secured the scene off of Roberts Cemetery Road, and recovered both the victim‘s body and his pickup truck, which had been abandoned nearby. Detective Teri Ross and deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office located videos that led to the identification of Ramirez-Russel as a possible suspect in this case. Ross promptly obtained a warrant for his arrest and secured a statement from Ramirez-Russel, during which he admitted to his involvement in the homicide.
Assistant District Attorney Rob Freyer stated, “This case serves as a testament to the results that come after the hard work of the deputies, crime scene technicians, and detectives from our Sheriff’s Department, that we have the privilege of working with every day. I would like to especially commend Detectives Teri Ross, Jason Hammons, and Stephanie Lee, whose hard work was instrumental in getting both the defendant and codefendant identified and taken into custody within days of this tragedy, and to get a very violent criminal and the man who assisted him off the street and in jail where they both belong. Their dedication was also recognized by nearly twenty loving members of the victim’s family, who were present in court to watch Russel’s guilty plea and to receive justice for the life of a very beloved man.”
District Attorney Brett Ligon shared, “I would like to thank the members of the Sheriff’s Department for their continued dedication and hard work in successfully clearing this case, and to once again remind the victims of violent crimes that we will strive to make Montgomery County a safe and prosperous place to work, visit, and to call home. This case was yet another collaborative effort between our office and with law enforcement, and sends the repeated message to those in Montgomery County who commit acts of violence such as this, that there will be dire consequences to those who perpetrate them.”
Source: Michael R. Holley, First Assistant District Attorney, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office