Man ordered to stand trial in connection with 1986 killing

Published: Monday, Nov. 26 2012 3:40 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A man charged in the 1986 killing of his former girlfriend has been ordered to stand trial.

Thomas "Peanut" Pennington, 46, has been charged with first-degree felony murder in the death of Patricia "Smurf" Ramirez, 20, who was last seen alive on July 8, 1986. Her body was found July 13, 1986, on a hillside east of Memory Grove.

Third District Court Judge Robin Reese determined earlier this month that there was sufficient evidence to support the murder charge against Pennington. An arraignment hearing has been set for Nov. 30.

At a preliminary hearing in August, witnesses testified there was a large group of people, including Pennington and Ramirez, who connected in Utah through the Job Corps. One man, Joel Murray, said he saw Ramirez the afternoon of July 8 and that the woman asked him for a ride to a building downtown.

Later that night, Murray went to a party hosted by another Job Corps member and was asked to give Pennington a ride. He testified that Pennington, who brought two other men into the vehicle, directed him to what he thought was the same building and asked him to pop his trunk.

Murray said he didn't see the men carrying anything but felt added weight in the trunk of his car. He said Pennington directed him to another location, near a hill, and asked Murray to open the trunk again.

Murray said he got out of the car and could see "something of pretty good size" in his trunk, but declined Pennington's offer to see what it was.

Murray said he saw Pennington and the other two men carry the package over the hill and believed it was a body. The group returned to the party where Pennington allegedly told another partygoer that Ramirez was dead.

An autopsy determined Ramirez was strangled.

Pennington has told detectives that the last time he saw Ramirez was six months before her death.

Emiley Morgan, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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