Arlington man sentenced to life for random drive-by killing

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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An Arlington man received a life prison sentence Monday for firing a weapon out of the window of a sports utility vehicle as he drove in a residential neighborhood and killing a man who was sitting in his apartment living room.

Thomas Ramirez Jr., who has a long criminal history in Tarrant County, was convicted of murder Friday in connection with the Aug. 21, 2011, slaying of Ivan Daniel Valenzuela. Ramirez was accused of being drunk and high on cocaine when he fatally wounded Valenzuela in the left temple while he was in his west central Arlington apartment.

The jury reached a verdict late Monday in state District Judge Everett Young’s court, where the trial started one week ago. Ramirez must serve 30 years before he becomes eligible for parole.

Valenzuela, who was sitting near an open window, was found by his father the day after the shooting slumped in his chair and holding a burned-out cigarette, according to Robert Huseman, who prosecuted the case with Allenna Bangs.

Officers responded to two 911 calls about shots being fired, one in the 2000 block of Ravinia Drive and the other shortly after in the 1800 block of Romack Court, on the day authorities said Valenzuela was killed.

Liza Moreno was riding with Ramirez when she insisted on getting out of his vehicle because Ramirez was drunk, Huseman said. Moreno walked the streets of Arlington awhile before realizing she was lost, and then got back into Ramirez Jr.’s red sport utility vehicle, Huseman said.

Witnesses told officers that a man in a red sport utility vehicle had fired a gun out of the window of his vehicle. While searching the area, officers spotted a man and a woman getting out of a red SUV and walking into a house in the 400 block of Cousins Lane.

Ramirez was initially arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of a firearm, deadly conduct, evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance, and Moreno was arrested on outstanding misdemeanor warrants. The murder charge against Ramirez was added after police were led to Valenzuela's body the next day.

Police found .40-caliber shell casings at three locations less than a mile apart, that all came from the same gun, Huseman said.

Tarrant County court records show that Ramirez has an extensive criminal history dating to 2002, including convictions for failure to identify himself to police, burglary of a vehicle, burglary of a habitation with intent to commit assault, assault with bodily injury, and theft.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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

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