A Los Angeles man Tuesday admitted murdering two women and robbing and trying to kill a teenage girl within a three-week period in March 2014.
A soft-spoken Robert Lawrence Ransom Jr., 34, quietly said “guilty” when asked for his pleas to first-degree murder charges stemming from the March 1, 2014, shooting death of Margarite Evans, 19, and the March 5, 2014, killing of Gisella Yauli, 28, along with the attempted murder and second-degree robbery of a 16-year-old girl on March 20, 2014.
Ransom, who also admitted that he used a firearm in the commission of Evans’ killing and has a prior conviction for carjacking from 2003, is facing 85 years to life in state prison. Sentencing is set April 3 before Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench, who is expected to hear victim impact statements.
Three other counts against Ransom, including a murder charge involving Yauli’s year-old son, Dillon Reyes, and a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders are expected to be dismissed at his sentencing.
Prosecutors had initially decided in 2016 to seek the death penalty, then decided last November that they would no longer seek capital punishment for Ransom, who would have faced a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole had he gone to trial and been convicted of the crimes.
After the hearing, Deputy District Attorney David Reinert said the prosecution considered the 85-year-to-life term to be the “functional equivalent of a life sentence.”
“Knowing the uncertainties of a jury trial and the impact it would have on our witnesses to testify about these horrific crimes, it was worth taking that functional equivalent sentence to spare them from having to testify,” the prosecutor said outside court.
Evans died after being found near the corner of West 93rd Street and South Grand Avenue. Yauli and her son were found dead four days later after a fire in their home in the 100 block of East 50th Street.
The 16-year-old was doused with gasoline during an attack two weeks after Yauli and her son were killed, but the girl managed to escape. Ransom admitted in his plea that he had tried to kill the teenager, but two other counts against him involving the girl — kidnapping to commit another crime and forcible rape — are expected to be dismissed.
The three-week crime spree occurred in South Los Angeles, according to Deputy District Attorney Guillermo Santiso, who handled the case with Reinert.
The motives for the attacks was unclear.
Ransom was arrested by Los Angeles police a week after the attack on the teenage girl, and he has remained in jail since then.
–City News Service