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Man ordered to stand trial in Utah stabbing death

First Published Aug 20 2014 01:30PM      Last Updated Aug 20 2014 10:44 pm

A man who was pulled out of his car and stabbed to death in downtown Salt Lake City in April was a veteran, a father and a husband.

When his wife was asked Wednesday how friends would describe him, she used one word: "peaceful."

Moments after the woman finished testifying, Harlin Argelio Ramos was ordered to stand trial for bringing a violent end to the life of Joaquin Gonzalez, 33, near 500 West and 100 South.

Gonzalez, who was stationed for years at Hill Air Force Base, was stabbed several times in the torso. He died before police could respond to the scene, just outside The Gateway on April 19.

Ramos faces up to life in prison for the first-degree felony murder count with which he has been charged. He listened to the judge’s decision Wednesday through a Spanish interpreter.

"I believe that the evidence that has been presented yesterday and today is more than sufficient," said 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg at the end of a two-day preliminary hearing. "There is probable cause to believe that the crime was committed as charged and there’s probable cause to believe Mr. Ramos committed it."

According to court documents and testimony, Ramos approached Gonzalez and his friend Megan Sellers as they sat in a white car, talking, at about 1:20 a.m. The two had just seen a movie together and were saying their goodbyes.

Ramos opened the front passenger door, startling the two inside.

Officers reported that Gonzalez leapt out, asking Ramos, "Hey dude, what are you doing?"

Sellers testified that Ramos climbed on top of Gonzalez, who pleaded for his life.

"Help me," Gonzalez allegedly said. "I have two kids. Please don’t kill me."

Sellers said she tried to use her stun gun on Ramos before running back into her car and calling 911.

Ramos was being picked up that night by a friend — Nestor Vasquez, who testified Tuesday, that he witnessed the fight from across the street. He believed Ramos was trying to find his car, a white sedan, but came upon the wrong vehicle.

Vasquez testified that Ramos was calling out for help, too, and that he seemed to be hurt.

When the fight was over, Ramos fled to a North Temple motel.

Vasquez, who drove him there, testified that Ramos believed the other man — Gonzalez — was trying to kill him.



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