SOUTH LAKE TAHOE- On January 19, 2018, a man convicted of violently and sexually assaulting a foreign exchange student in South Lake Tahoe in 2015 was sentenced to 183 years to life in prison.
Manuel Ovidio Ramos-Munoz was convicted of seven felony counts including kidnapping and sexual assault for the attack on a 22-year-old woman who had just recently arrived in the United States from Macedonia.
Ramos-Munoz kidnapped the young woman at knifepoint just steps from her South Lake Tahoe motel room and repeatedly sexually and physically assaulted her. Ramos-Munoz was an employee of the motel.
During the course of the trial, a California Department of Justice criminalist was called to testify about the evidence collected.
“Forensic science is such an integral part of investigations and prosecutions,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “DOJ criminalists are some of the brightest minds in forensic science and some cases would go nowhere without them. Thankfully, this violent individual was convicted and will now spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Before handing down the 183 years to life sentence, Judge Kenneth Melikian told Ramos-Munoz that, having heard all of the evidence in the case, he was prepared to sentence Ramos-Munoz to the maximum term provided under the law. Judge Melikian called Ramos-Munoz's actions on June 11, 2015, "beyond reprehensible" and stated that on the day of the crime, Ramos-Munoz had "put the victim in hell", commenting that it was a hell she had probably not yet escaped.
The case was investigated by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, as well as the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Jamie Pesce and Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexander, with the assistance of Detective Doug Sentell, Investigator Ken Barber and Victim Witness Advocate Yolanda McGillivray.
"The victim showed tremendous strength and courage throughout the investigation and trial. She faced the man, who brutally physically and sexually assaulted her, in court and with incredible poise and bravery, recounted for the jury the most horrific experience of her life," stated El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson. "Due to her strength and bravery, the jury convicted the defendant and he will spend the rest of his life where he belongs, in prison."