FRESNO, Calif. – A California man who used a woman he took hostage to shield himself from a spray of bullets fired by officers following a deadly bank robbery and car chase was expected to receive a life sentence Tuesday.
Jaime Ramos, 22, pleaded guilty last year in a deal with prosecutors to avoid a possible death sentence at trial. The 2014 robbery and chase through Stockton, 80 miles inland from San Francisco, ended in the deaths of two other suspects and Misty Holt-Singh, a 41-year-old wife, mother of two and bank customer who was taken hostage.
Survivors may speak at Ramos' sentencing about how the ordeal has affected their lives, said San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau, who is prosecuting the case.
In the midday heist, three armed men stormed into a Bank of the West branch, taking three hostages — two women who worked at the bank and Holt-Singh. They fled in an SUV owned by one of the bank employees.
The two surviving women were injured when they were thrown from the moving vehicle or jumped out during a vehicle chase lasting nearly an hour. In the shootout, officers fired roughly 600 bullets into the vehicle — 10 striking Holt-Singh as Ramos held her as a human shield, police have said.
Separate from the criminal case, Holt-Singh's family and the two surviving hostages have sued the Stockton Police Department and 32 officers involved in the shooting. City spokeswoman Connie Cochran said the three lawsuits are still pending.
The police department commissioned a review, finding that the shots the officers fired at the end of the pursuit were excessive and unnecessary.
Ramos pleaded guilty to murder, carjacking and attempted murder of a police officer late last year. His defense attorney, Jonathan Fattarsi, did not respond to requests for comment by The Associated Press.
A second man, Pablo Ruvalcaba, also pleaded guilty to Holt-Singh's killing, accepting a prison sentence of 25 years to life. The 23-year-old was accused of driving the three robbers to the bank.