SAN FRANCISCO – A jury on Tuesday found a central California man guilty of torturing a teen held captive at his next-door neighbor's house for more than a year.
San Joaquin County jurors convicted Anthony Waiters, 31, of all nine counts he faced, including aggravated mayhem, torture, kidnapping and false imprisonment of then-16-year-old Kyle Ramirez.
Prosecutors said that between 2007 and 2008, Waiters went frequently to the Tracy home where Ramirez was being held captive by his legal guardian and the homeowners.
Waiters, a former youth football coach, never took the stand during his nearly monthlong trial.
His neighbors — Michael Schumacher; Schumacher's wife, Kelly Layne Lau; and the teen's then-legal guardian, Caren Ramirez — accepted plea deals last month to charges including use of a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury to a child.
They each could face at least 30 years in prison when sentenced Dec. 6.
Waiters, the only defendant to go to trial, could spend the rest of his life in prison. He's scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 18.
Ramirez, now 18, testified last month that Waiters cut him, lit his pants on fire and beat him unconscious.
"They were all just laughing at me because I was trying to put the fire out," said Ramirez, then about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 100 pounds.
Ramirez said when he first arrived at the Tracy home, he was forced to do chores and sleep near a fireplace, chained to a coffee table.
The teen, now 6 feet 2 inches and 250 pounds, last month recounted other acts of cruelty, alleging Waiters once got a knife from the kitchen and cut his arm while others held him down.
"They cut my arm and poured bleach on it. It burned," he testified, showing jurors his scars.
Ramirez unchained himself after persuading Schumacher's 2-year-old son to get him a set of keys that Schumacher left around the house. He fled in December 2008 after recalling Schumacher and Waiters once saying they were going to "chop me up and throw me in the Delta."
The emaciated teen escaped by running to the backyard, jumping on a trampoline, hopping a retaining wall and running to a nearby health club, wearing only boxer shorts and a shackle across his ankle.