Arlington man on trial in drive-by shooting death

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Thomas Ramirez Jr. was so intoxicated and high on cocaine when he drove Liza Moreno home from a nightclub two summers ago that Moreno got out of the red Chevrolet Suburban he was driving, a Tarrant County prosecutor told a jury on Wednesday.

Ramirez, who has a lengthy criminal history in Tarrant County, is on trial for murder in connection with the Aug. 21, 2011, death of Ivan Daniel Valenzuela. He is accused of being drunk and high on cocaine when he recklessly and repeatedly fired a gun out of the window of his vehicle in an Arlington neighborhood, fatally striking Valenzuela, who was sitting inside of his apartment.

Moreno walked the streets of Arlington for awhile before realizing she was lost, then got back into Ramirez Jr.’s red sport utility vehicle, said Robert Huseman, who is prosecuting the case with Allenna Bangs in state District Judge Everett Young’s court.

Huseman told the jury that multiple witnesses reported hearing gunshots at about the same time Moreno said she got back into Ramirez’s vehicle.

On an audio tape of a 911 call played for the jury, one witness was heard saying a Hispanic man drove down his street holding a handgun out of the window of a large Chevrolet SUV.

As police began searching the area for suspects, an officer spotted a vehicle matching the description of the red SUV and tailed it to a residence in the 400 block of Cousins Lane.

The officer testified that he asked the couple to stop three or four times.

“I called out to them to stop but they walked right into a house at 405 Cousins Lane,” an Arlington officer testified.

That officer called for help and Ramirez Jr., 29, of Arlington, was arrested on suspicion of discharging a deadly weapon in a residential area. The murder charge was added after police were lead to Valenzuela’s body the next day.

Valenzuela had planned to participate in a family function but never showed up, Huseman said. When his father went to his apartment to check on him, he could see Valenzuela through the window slumped down in a chair.

Huseman said the man got a key from the management of the apartment complex where his son lived because he knew something was wrong.

“He finds his son dead,” Huseman told the jury.

David Owens, Ramirez’s defense attorney, argued that police botched the investigation. Owens cross-examined several witnesses who testified that they saw a red SUV and heard gunfire, but they never saw the gunman’s face and could not identify the gunman.

Testimony will continue today.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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