A California man has pleaded not guilty to murder and hate crime charges after he allegedly shot a 20-year-old bisexual man in July 2014.
According to CBS Local 2, Miguel Angel Bautista Ramirez pleaded not guilty to three charges, including a special circumstance charge of lying in wait. Ramirez , who was 25 at the time, was reportedly arrested in August for the shooting death of Juan Ceballos, 20, right in front of his Mecca, California, home.
On the night of July 13, 2014, Ceballos was coming home from work from one of his jobs at Pizza Hut when Ramirez was allegedly waiting outside the home with a gun, according to the criminal complaint. Ramirez and Ceballos were reportedly co-workers, and the complaint accuses Ramirez of murdering Ceballos because of his sexual orientation. The victim’s brother, Sergio Ceballos, who was home at the time of the deadly shooting, told the local news station that his brother was bisexual.
“He was coming home from work. He had pizza,” Sergio Ceballos told CBS Local 2. “He was messaging me. As soon as he parked it happened.” Ceballos said he then heard two gunshots.
“I ran out to check on him, but he was already dead,” the victim’s brother said. “He worked hard to pay bills. He went to school. He wanted a future and career.”
The Ceballos family was reportedly so traumatized by the tragedy outside their home that they have since moved to another apartment.
“He was a happy person and tried to guide his siblings to do good in life,” Maria Teresa Mendez, the victim’s mother, told the news station.
The District Attorney is reportedly considering seeking the death penalty if Ramirez is found guilty. The suspect is being held without bail and has a court appearance scheduled in August.
Photo: Riverside County Sheriff’s Office