OCEAN CITY — A Maryland appeals court this week denied a bid for a new trial for a Silver Spring man convicted last year along with four others for raping a young girl at an Ocean City hotel two years ago.
Last year, Erick Ramirez, now 22, of Silver Spring, Md., was convicted by a Worcester County Circuit Court jury of second-degree rape, second-, third- and fourth-degree sex offense, second-degree assault and filming child pornography for his role on the sexual assault of a 17-year-old female in a hotel room on 28th Street on Memorial Day weekend in 2016. On the same day as his trial, Ramirez was sentenced to 18 years for the combined convictions.
Often in such serious cases with potentially considerable jail time for the defendant, sentencing is deferred until the completion of a pre-sentence investigation. In this case, however, with the defense attorney’s blessing, the judge proceeded straight to sentencing. Ramirez later appealed, pointing out the trial court abused its discretion in proceeding to sentencing immediately after the verdict.
However, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals this week denied that assertion, effectively ending Ramirez’s bid for a new trial. The appeals court pointed out a review of the trial transcripts revealed Ramirez’s defense attorney did not object to proceeding directly to sentencing.
“In the instant case, when the circuit court expressed a desire to proceed immediately to sentencing, defense counsel did not request that sentencing be scheduled on a later date, nor did he ask for a pre-sentence investigation report,” the opinion reads. “Defense counsel declined to take such action despite having the opportunity to talk to the appellant before sentencing when the court took a recess to give the prosecutor time to calculate the sentencing guidelines for the appellant’s convictions.”
As a result, Ramirez’s appeal was denied and the Worcester County Circuit Court convictions were upheld.
According to police reports, the victim had known some of the co-defendants in the case, but had only met Ramirez that weekend in Ocean City. The other co-defendants included Ronaldo Ramirez, 21, of Silver Spring; Elmer Casco-Hernandez, 22, of Silver Spring; Kevin Caceres, 21, of Rockville; and Anthony Alvarenga, 21, of Rockville.
The victim and the defendants in the case were partying in a resort hotel room when the victim became unconscious. According to police reports, what happened next was a series of cell phone videos and pictures of the co-defendants undressing the victim, touching her inappropriately and ultimately sexually assaulting her.
Videos and photographs stored on Ramirez’s phone showed the victim lying down on a hotel bed. Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) detectives were able to identify Ramirez and the other suspects through the videos and still shots of the incident recorded on the cell phone.
The videos and pictures were shared as group messages between the co-defendants and others and solicited chats about the assault on the victim following the incident, which is how OCPD detectives were able to connect the sexual assault to the defendants. According to police reports, the victim awakened the next morning with her clothes put on her haphazardly, but was not aware she had been sexually assaulted until months later when she was interviewed by police and shown the illicit videos and pictures.
As far as the other defendants, Ronaldo Ramirez was found guilty of second-degree rape and filming child pornography and was sentenced to 20 years with all but seven suspended. Casco-Hernandez and Caceres each entered plea deals to second-degree sex offense and were sentenced to 14 years with all but seven suspended. Alvarenga pleaded to second-degree sex offense and filming child pornography and was sentenced to 14 years with all but seven suspended.