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Woman admits hiding baby

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

An 18-year-old high school student who hid her pregnancy pleaded guilty Tuesday to concealing the birth of her son, who was found dead at a Stateline casino.

While her mother cried quietly, Christina Ramirez rubbed her eyes with shackled hands. She said only four words in Tahoe Justice Court, each a soft “yes” in reply to the judge’s questions.

Ramirez gave birth in a restroom at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe early May 7. She placed the baby in a plastic bag and dumped it in a sanitary napkin receptacle, according to investigators.

According to testimony at her bail hearing Tuesday, Ramirez was found on the bathroom floor by a housekeeping crew and told she couldn’t sleep there. The housekeepers found the dead infant at 7:15 a.m. Later that day, Douglas County sheriff’s deputies found Ramirez at Harrah’s waiting for a bus to her hometown of Stockton, Calif.

Ramirez entered her guilty plea before the start of her scheduled preliminary hearing. She faces a maximum of one year in jail and $2,000 in fines for concealing the birth, a gross misdemeanor in Nevada.

Ramirez is scheduled to appear at 8:30 a.m. May 30 for sentencing at Douglas County District Court in Minden. She remains in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Preliminary autopsy results did not show the child was harmed but further toxicology tests are pending. If those tests show the baby was alive before being abandoned, additional charges could be filed against Ramirez, Deputy District Attorney Kristine Brown said.

Her mother, sister and best friend didn’t know Ramirez was pregnant, Brown said. One woman, who declined to be interviewed, whispered in court that “she’s a good girl. She made a mistake. She’s not a gang member.”

But according to law enforcement in Douglas County and Stockton, Ramirez belongs to the Pilgrim Street Gang, a Norteno gang in Stockton with about 50 members and associates. Her alleged gang ties were enough to convince Judge Richard Glasson to deny a defense request to release Ramirez on her own recognizance.

Augustin Telly, a Stockton detective in the gang violence suppression unit, testified during the preliminary hearing.

“My knowledge about the Pilgrim Street Gang is they’re very violent,” he said. “The violence and crime activity is high.” Telly listed Ramirez, three family members and Michael Shelton, the baby’s father, as being members of the neighborhood gang.

After Ramirez was found, she received postpartum care at Barton Memorial Hospital. Richard Brown, a Douglas County investigator, testified that while interviewing Ramirez at Barton he noticed a tattoo on her finger that read “Pilgrim.”

“I asked her if she was a member of a gang and she said she was,” Brown said.

Defense attorney Derrick Lopez provided three letters to Judge Glasson written by a family member, teacher and a church member defending the character of Ramirez. Eight months ago, she joined the Home Church in Stockton.

Lopez also said Ramirez would seek counseling after being released from jail.

“It is her decision to take accountability for her own actions,” Lopez said.

-Contact William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com or (530) 542-8014.


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