SEATTLE - On Tuesday, Q13 News continued our coverage on a story we've been committed to getting answers for.
A convicted rapist, who just days after being released from jail, allegedly went back and attacked the same victim.
That woman was then put into protective custody. Last year, Ramirez was convicted for the crime for rape in the 3rd degree.
He served nine months in jail for raping the victim inside her White Center home in front of her 2-year-old child.
The details of the case are disturbing, but so is the delayed responses we have received from elected leaders and the courts on how the case was handled. Q13 News has repeatedly tried to get answers on this story for nearly a week.
He was released by King County Superior Court Judge Nicole Gaines Phelps. And in an audio recording of the court hearing, you hear Phelps say that she was legally prohibited from asking about Ramirez’s immigration status.
This comes after Ramirez himself requested to return to Mexico.
Prosecutors wanted community custody but, in the end, the judge decided to let him return to Mexico without supervision. But she did require him to provide proof when he got to Mexico.
But detectives say before he left for Mexico he went back and attacked the victim who tells Q13 News that she thought he was going to kill her.
The argument is not for or against sanctuary policies but our efforts to find out if there is a loophole in the law that prevents courts from asking relevant questions. The answers we were looking for pertained to convicted criminals and which law prohibited her from asking that question.
Q13 News has asked the courts for clarification since last week, and their responses did not answer our questions.
We also reached out to the governor’s office and King County Executive Dow Constantine who have been big proponents of sanctuary policies. Constantine’s communication director declined a request for an interview with Constantine saying he cannot speak for other elected officials.
But he did clarify that there is no county ordinance that prohibits judges from asking any question. He says the court’s conditions for releasing Ramirez had nothing to do with county policies.
The governor’s office also released a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“We reviewed the case and the new law does not impact the ability of this judge – or any local judge – to communicate with ICE or ask about immigration status. Many individuals who are prosecuted for violent crimes are sent to facilities run by the Washington State Department of Corrections. DOC has the authority to share immigration status.
So, that begs the question if sanctuary laws cannot prevent a judge from asking that question what was Phelps talking about?
Q13 News reached out to her spokesperson again on Tuesday in which they responded.
“Since illegally entering the United States is a crime, defendants have the right to remain silent when asked if they entered the US illegally. Also, please see Washington State Evidence Rule 413. Thank you for your inquiry.”
They are referring to the 5th Amendment which explains the defendant’s right not to answer a question but it still does not explain why the judge was prohibited from asking.