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Patricia Esparza: Professor Considered The Mastermind In Rapist’s Meat Cleaver Hacking Death, Subject Of Friday’s ‘Dateline NBC’

3-20-15 California:

Dr. Patricia Esparza, the well-respected college professor who was called the mastermind in the death of a man who allegedly raped her 20 years ago, will be the subject of the latest Dateline NBC episode on Friday. Patricia Esparza, also known as Norma ‘Pati’ Esparza, took a plea deal in 2014 that allowed her to spend about six years in prison, instead of a life sentence.

The case of Patricia Esparza began in April 1995, when 25-year old Gonzalo Ramirez, of Riverside, was killed in California out of revenge for raping Pati. According to Patricia Esparza, she was raped inside her dorm room by Ramirez after she rejected his sexual advances.

After the rape, Esparza tried to move on but often felt depressed by what happened to her that awful night. Things took a turn for the worst after Pati confided in her ex-boyfriend, Gianni Anthony Van, about the rape. According to court records, Gianni Anthony Van, became so enraged by the rape allegations that he was dead set on killing Gonzalo Ramirez.

Patricia Esparza stated that she in no way orchestrated the murder, and that she had no idea that her ex bofriend had planned to kill Gonzalo that night. However, out of fear, she agreed to point out the rapist at a nightclub when Gianni Anthony Van demanded that she show him who it was that raped her that night.

That’s when prosecutors say Gianni Anthony Van left the club with two other men and a woman and followed Gonzalo Ramirez. After rear ending Ramirez car, he was attacked by the group of men when he exited the vehicle. A man who had been riding with the victim witnessed the beginning of the attack, but fled the scene to get help, according to Slate.

The badly hacked up body of Gonzalo Ramirez was later found wrapped in part of a blue towel and discarded on the side of the road between Sand Canyon Avenue and the I-405 freeway, according to a 1995 article in the Orange County Register. An autopsy report showed that Ramirez had multiple gashes to his body and two badly cut fingers that were slightly detached from the hand. The report concluded that the weapon used in the attack was a meat cleaver.

After his death, Patricia Esparza moved away, got married, had a child, and was working as a professor at Webster University Geneva. Her past came back to haunt her when police arrested her in 2012 at Boston’s Logan Airport. Supporters for Dr. Patricia Esparza believe that she is an innocent victim who has been falsely accused of murder, and they will stop at nothing to see her freed.

Tonight’s Dateline NBC episode will highlight her arrest and the media frenzy surrounding the case. Her arrest sparked debate over whether she should be charged in the killing of the man who had raped her. Tune in tonight at 9/8c (5-15-15). ..Source.. by

Professor pleads guilty to reduced charge in 1995 murder of man who raped her at college after her ex-boyfriend 'stabbed him to death in revenge attack'


A psychology professor has pleaded guilty in a California courtroom to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter in the murder nearly 20 years ago of her alleged rapist.

Norma Esparza, 40, is one of four people accused of the 1995 killing of Gonzalo Ramirez, 24, whose body was found hacked to death with a meat cleaver on the side of a road in Orange County. A fifth suspect shot himself during a standoff with police in 2012.

Esparza, a professor at Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland, was arrested in the cold case murder two years ago after she re-entered the U.S. for an academic conference.

Before changing her plea, the wife and mother of a four-year-old daughter had been due to face trial for one felony count of special circumstance murder - a charge that if convicted carried a life sentence without parole.

She is now expected to be sentenced to six years in state prison and will testify against her co-defendants, announced the Orange County district attorney’s office on Friday.

Esparza had previously rejected a plea deal that would have handed her a three-year prison sentence.

'The principle of what they're asking me is to plead guilty to something that they know I am not responsible for,' she said last November.

She told a grand jury that she never meant for Ramirez to be killed and that her ex-boyfriend, Gianni Van, forced her to point him out after she told him about the rape.

Esparza’s attorney, Jack Earley, said his client, who is married and has a young daughter Arianna, was unwilling to risk a life sentence if convicted of murder.

Though Esparza did not intend for Ramirez to be killed, he said, she was not forthcoming about the slaying when police confronted her about it almost two decades ago.

'She was frightened,' he told the LA Times. 'And she realizes that... there’s a chance people will hold her accountable for that. It’s very hard for someone to put themselves in her situation. At trial they’d be looking at a 40-year-old instead of what she was at the time, which was a 20-year-old girl.'

Prosecutors have described the murder of Gonzalo Ramirez as a 'revenge killing.'

They allege that on 15 April, 1995, a 20-year-old Esparza was at a bar with a group of friends, including former boyfriend Van, when she pointed out Ramirez, claiming he had raped her in her dorm room at Pomona College in Claremont, California, a few months earlier.

According to the prosecution, Esparza, Van, Kody Tran, Diane Tran and Shannon Gries followed Ramirez when he left the bar in the early hours of the following morning.

They intentionally rear-ended his vehicle, say prosecutors, forcing him to get out of the car to inspect the damage.

He was then kidnapped. His body was found on the side of Sand Canyon Road in Santa Ana hours later.

Esparza says she was forced by the aggressive Van to identify Ramirez and then coerced to keep the secret of his murder for almost two decades.

Diane Tran, Shannon Gries and Gianni Van have also been charged. All have pleaded not guilty.

Co-defendants Van, 45, and Gries, 43, are charged with felony murder in the commission of a kidnapping. They are expected to go on trial next year.

A third suspect, Diane Tran, 45, of Costa Mesa, Calif., pleaded guilty earlier this year to voluntary manslaughter and is expected to be sentenced to four years in prison, prosecutors said.

Tran’s husband, Kody Tran, who was also a suspect in the case, shot himself during a standoff with police in 2012.

Kody Tran died after shooting himself in a standoff with police in July 2012.

Esparza says she met Ramirez in a Santa Ana nightclub. The next morning he asked her to breakfast and offered to drive her and some friends back to Pomona College.

Once in her dorm room, he raped Esparza, who went to a school nurse and was given the morning-after pill.

She was too ashamed to report the rape to authorities and the nurse did not advise her to do so.

'I don't think I was thinking at that time,' she said. 'I felt ashamed. I felt guilty. I didn't want to come forward because I didn't want my family to know.'

Julie Ann Rojas, who was Gries then-girlfriend, testified that she was with Van and Esparza the night Ramirez died.

She said Van, Gries and Kody Tran attacked Ramirez while she and Esparza went to a bar. After about an hour Roja and Esparza went to the transmission shop owned by Kody Tran where Esparza said she saw Ramirez tied and hanging from the ceiling.

After Ramirez's death, Esparza began dating Van again and the two were married.

Esparza's current husband Jorge Mancillas told reporters that Esparza was pressured into marrying Van so that she would not be bound to testify against him.

He said that his wife was told that Ramirez was 'roughed up' and was unaware of the murder until weeks later when she was questioned by police.

Esparza, who says she suffered years of sexual abuse by her father as a child, said at a news conference last November that she lived in fear of Van for years after the attack.

'All I knew is that I wanted to survive,' she said.

'All I knew was that these people were dangerous and I just needed to stay quiet and withdraw and come out of that night alive.'

Mancillas and Esparza have a four-year-old daughter Arianna.

Until her arrest, the family had lived in a small town in France on the Swiss border and Esparza was an assistant professor of psychology and counseling at Webster University. ..Source.. by David Mccormack and Alex Greg for MailOnline

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