41-year-old Armando Ramirez was sentenced to 13 years in state prison after being found guilty by a jury of Corporal Injury to Spouse/Cohabitant, Criminal Threats and First Degree Burglary.
24-year-old Michael Higgins of Yucca Valley was sentenced to 23 years in state prison for Corporal Injury to Spouse.
Deputy District Attorney
"The most difficult part of my assignment is having to read about, hear about, and look at pictures of the terrible things that people can do to children."
What inspired you to go into this field?
My assignment in the Family Violence Unit focuses on Crimes Against Children, and I have wanted to be in the CAC unit since the first day I started as a Deputy DA. I have just always felt that prosecuting people who do horrible things to innocent children is the most significant way we can make an impact in someone’s life. When children are victimized, they are impacted for the rest of their lives. It really makes a difference when they have someone who believes in them and will fight for them in and out of the courtroom.
For those who may not know, what are some of the types of crimes that you see in the Family Violence Unit?
Sadly, the majority of our cases are serious sexual abuse of very young children, usually perpetrated by a father or grandfather. We of course handle physical child abuse as well, ranging anywhere from relatively minor injuries all the way to murder. But most of our work here is with victims of sexual abuse. I also assist with domestic violence cases, again ranging from bruising to brutal murders, as well as physical and financial elder abuse.
What are some of the challenges you face when dealing with the types of crimes you see in the Family Violence Unit?
The most difficult part of my assignment is having to read about, hear about, and look at pictures of the terrible things that people can do to children. People who 99% of the time hold some type of position of trust in that child’s life. It’s very difficult to not picture my 3 year old son or 7 year old daughter when I read my cases, or to not think of my victims when I’m home at night with my family.
As a Deputy DA in the FVU, what has been your biggest success so far?
Success in the FVU to me doesn’t always mean a guilty verdict (as those can often be hard to come by with a Fontana jury), but it is more about the bond you create with a victim’s family. My most recent murder trial involved an 18 year old boy who murdered his pregnant 17 year old girlfriend and put her body in a trash can all because he didn’t want to have to tell his father that she was pregnant. Her remains were located 72 days later in a local landfill. I could literally feel the pain that the victim’s family was feeling each time I spoke to them, and I wanted more than anything to get justice for them and their little girl. Unfortunately the jury did not come back with the verdict that we had hoped for, and when that happened, the girl’s mother and I just hugged in court and cried together for a very long time.
In her victim impact statement that she read to the Court during the defendant’s sentencing, she thanked me for the compassion I felt for her daughter and for fighting as hard as I did for justice. Later she told me that her daughter would be smiling down on me from Heaven. And that’s exactly why I do this job!