A Los Angeles man who pleaded guilty to murdering two women and robbing and trying to kill a 16-year-old girl was sentenced Tuesday to 85 years to life in state prison.
Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench imposed the term on Robert Lawrence Ransom Jr., 34, after hearing emotional victim impact statements from the families of Margarite Evans and Gisella Yauli, along with the young woman who survived the March 20, 2014, attack.
Ransom pleaded guilty March 13 to two counts of first-degree murder, as well as one count each of attempted murder and second-degree robbery. He also admitted that he used a firearm in the commission of Evans’ killing and has a 2003 conviction for carjacking.
Three other counts against Ransom, including a murder charge stemming from the death of Yauli’s year-old son, Dillon, and a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders were dismissed as a result of Ransom’s plea.
Evans, who had been shot, died after being found near the corner of West 93rd Street and South Grand Avenue on March 1, 2014.
Yauli, 28, and her son were found dead four days later after a fire at their home in the 100 block of East 50th Street.
The then-teen, who was doused with gasoline on March 20, 2014, but managed to escape, asked in court for a moment of silence for the other victims.
“I am here today for justice,” she said, calling Ransom a “horrible monster” who deserves to live a “long, miserable life in prison.”
“You didn’t know I was talking to God the whole time you held me captive,” she said. “I did not let you destroy me … I was the one to end this horror.”
Humberto Yauli, who lost his daughter and grandson, said through a Spanish interpreter that the past four years have been “the worst of my life, constant heartache.”
“I don’t understand why this had to happen. Maybe I’ll never find the answer …,” he told a packed downtown Los Angeles courtroom. “I don’t think there’s a reason to commit such a horrible crime .. I’m never going to forgive him. He destroyed my life.”
The little boy’s father, Oscar Reyes, said that he lost “everything” and that he had to explain to his older son that his mother and younger brother had been killed.
“There are no words for what he did,” he said of Ransom. “Only he knows what he did.”
Evans’ mother said she still cries about what happened to her 19-year-old daughter.
“She will always be in my heart,” she said.
One of Evans’ cousins called Ransom “pure evil,” and another of the victim’s family members called him a “predator” and questioned why Ransom wouldn’t turn around and look at the victims’ family members as they spoke.
The judge thanked the victims’ relatives for telling her about the “lives that were touched, the lives that were lost,” and called the surviving victim “an amazing young lady.”
Prosecutors had initially decided in 2016 to seek the death penalty against Ransom, then decided last November that they would no longer seek capital punishment. He could 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 Ransom’s plea last month, 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.
The three-week crime spree occurred in South Los Angeles, according to Deputy District Attorney Guillermo Santiso, who handled the case with Reinert. But the motive 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.