SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, March 9 the California Supreme Court made a ruling that refused to review the case of a man convicted of murdering an 18-year-old transient at Tongva Park.

On October 3 2018, now 21-year-old Jesse Ramirez Perez, stabbed 18-year-old Eric Micheal Perrine while he was sleeping on a park bench. Perrine suffered a single stab wound to his abdomen. The stabbing was said to be unprovoked, and Perrine died on his way to the hospital.

Perez was caught running from the crime scene and was arrested by responding officers. Perez was booked on one count of murder and one count assault with a deadly weapon.

In a ruling last December that upheld Ramirez-Perez’s conviction, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of a prior assault by the defendant and by failing to instruct jurors on self-defense and the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter.

According to the ruling, jurors heard evidence that Ramirez-Perez had struck another homeless man in the face with a two-foot length piece of rebar while the victim was sleeping earlier that year, but the jury did not hear that he was convicted of felony assault by means likely to inflict great bodily injury for that attack. 

The appellate court justices noted that, “Both attacks occurred in parks, against homeless individuals, and within approximately six months of one another. In each instance, the defendant used a weapon to inflict a single wound to the victim and then fled. Although the wounds were to different parts of the victims’ bodies (a solid steel bar strike to the head and a knife stab to the chest), each support an inference that the defendant acted deliberately, with conscious disregard for the danger to the lives of both victims.” 

The panel found that the full court record “permits no reasonable conclusion that defendants acted in self-defense pursuant to a fight or struggle,” noting that he had committed an, “unprovoked assault against a similar victim in a similar location.” Ramierz-Perez is serving a 15-year-to-life prison sentence.