A Texas prison parolee was charged Friday with killing an Orem man and trying to kill another man in separate incidents earlier this month.
Nicholas Garcia Ramirez, 40, is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated robbery for the beating death of Cornell McDonald, 37, on Dec. 3. He was also charged with attempted murder and another count of aggravated robbery for stabbing another man two days earlier."We've been beating the bushes trying to come up with suspects," said Salt Lake Police Lt. Jim Bell. The break for detectives apparently came Thursday after they questioned a woman who said she was in the field at 221 N. 500 West on Dec. 3 when McDonald was beaten to death and robbed.
McDonald's body was located near a makeshift shack in the field that had apparently been built and used by transients. Although he was from Orem, police said he was a transient who had been living in the Salt Lake area.
The woman told police she and others had been drinking at the hutch when McDonald and Ramirez got into an argument.
"The suspect grabbed a rock, apparently, and smacked him in the head," Bell said. The woman said Ramirez also kicked McDonald in the head several times, hit him with boards and with his fist causing injuries that killed him, police and court documents state.
Ramirez - listed as a transient on jail records - also stole McDonald's money out of his wallet and left him in the field to die, the documents state.
The others in the hutch immediately left the area and were not present when the body was discovered the next morning. The case was difficult to investigate because the parties involved are transients and difficult to locate, Bell said.
"Half the time they live in the transient huts or at a motel, depending on how much money they have," he said.
Detectives arrested Ramirez Thursday while he was visiting at a residence on the corner of 800 South 700 East. He is being held without bail in the Salt Lake County Jail. Ramirez is on parole from the Texas State Prison for another felony.
Ramirez is also charged with stabbing a man on Dec. 1, two days before the homicide. Leslie Norwood, 42, identified him as the man who stabbed him four times in the chest and abdomen in an alley at 119 W. Pierpont Avenue (240 South). While the stabbing was taking place, Ramirez demanded Norwood's money and then took it, the complaint states.
Witnesses said they saw four transients beating the victim, but Bell said no other arrests have yet been made.