A horrific murder shook the relatively crime-free area of Palm Beach, Florida, in April 2015 when Onesimo Marcelino Lopez-Ramos was attacked and murdered. Police were quick to class this as a vicious racially motivated hate crime.
Lopez-Ramos, 18, was found unresponsive outside his home by police officers after they been called due to a fight in progress. Lopez-Ramos had been struck in the head with an ax, cracking his skull.
He was apparently the victim of a case of “Guat hunting,” which Jupiter police described as the targeting of immigrants from Guatemala and other South and Central American nations for robberies and beatings.
A week after the killing, David Harris, then 19, his brother Jesse, 18, and friend Austin Taggart, 19, were arrested and charged with the racially aggravated murder of Lopez-Ramos.
Prosecutors argue that the trio went looking for a Guatemalan to rob and ended up at the victim’s house. Other individuals were present with Lopez-Ramos, and the trio were actually invited in for a drink, but at some point, a fight broke out.
Taggart and the Harris brothers were thought to walking away from the fight but returned when the victim and his acquaintances continued to shout at them. David Harris picked up an ax dropped by Lopez-Ramos’s brother and whacked him in the head with it.
The three men were charged with murder but were tried separately. David Harris initially claimed self-defense, arguing that he was only protecting his younger brother. David Harris was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Austin Taggart pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery while committing evidence of prejudice; he received 20 years in prison. Jesse Harris pleaded guilty to the aggravated battery while committing evidence of prejudice and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
Evidence of Prejudice airs on Love and Hate Crime at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.
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