CHEYENNE,Wy.(KGWN)- Armando Ramirez-Serna admitted in front a full court room on Tuesday, that he shot and killed Justin Robinson with the intent of robbing him of marijuana and $200. His admission was given to a judge along with a plea agreement in U.S. District Court.
The case dates back to November of 2017 when Ramirez-Serna allegedly killed Robinson, set his SUV on fire near the Hereford ranch, and fled to Nebraska. 6 days later a tip to Nebraska Authorities led to his arrest at a hotel in Kimball.
Ramirez-Serna is facing 4 counts for the crime. With an agreement made with between the State and Defense over the last month, he pleaded guilty to 2 of those counts.
The first is a count of robbery of a controlled substance by threatening with a gun. The second, addresses the murder and is a count of carrying/firing a gun during a violent crime causing death. The State is advising the judge sentence Ramirez-Serna to 20 years on each count, making a total of 40 years in Federal prison.
In exchange for the plea, the State has decided not to seek the death penalty. U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen says that decision came from a committee who reviewed the case and recommended not the seek the death penalty.
The State says they came to a decision on the sentence given the violent nature of the crime.
Klaassen says, “for this type of case, we felt that this was the appropriate resolution to give certainty not only for the conviction, certainty for the family but then again all the factors that are considered". The other factors in the case include the fact that Ramirez-Serna doesn’t have a history of violent crime and had evidence of trauma as a child.
He added the family of the victim was also included in the process of the plea agreement. “We consulted with the family in the process of evaluating the proposed plea agreement that was presented to the court, to ensure that the family’s voice is heard, they have an opportunity to understand and provide input in this process.”
With the plea agreement, Ramirez-Serna also waived his right to any appeal once sentenced.
Ramirez-Serna was in the court room Wednesday to enter the plea, but is being held in a jail in Scottsbluff until sentencing.
Judge Alan B. Johnson ordered a pre-sentencing investigation where they will be interviewing Ramirez-Serna, his family and other members of his past to complete a report to the judge. The report is expected to take 45 days to complete.
Sentencing is currently set to take place on December 18. Before then, the judge can decide to reject the plea agreement based on the pre-sentencing investigation. If that happens, Ramirez-Serna can withdraw his guilty plea sending the case to a jury trial for all 4 counts.
Klaassen and the State pointed out that since there isn’t a parole board for Federal crimes in Wyoming, Ramirez-Serna will serve 85% if not all of the sentence handed down by the judge.