A California lawman blamed of the rape and death of an Air Force veteran on state and federal policies on Friday.
According to Fox News, Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin said that because current policy allowed an illegal immigrant suspect to be released from police custody, despite his lengthy arrest record, he was able to rape and murder a veteran.
Marilyn Pharis, a 64-year-old Air Force veteran, had worked an overnight shift and returned to her home. As she was sleeping, two men allegedly broke into her home at 9:45 am July 24.
The men used a claw hammer to bash Pharis’ head, then strangled and rape her with a foreign object. She was left for dead, but managed to dial 911. However, she died a few days later in the hospital.
“I think this is a national issue – it starts with administration and their policies,” Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin. “You can draw a direct line to this governor and Legislature.”
“I am not remiss to say that from Washington DC to Sacramento, there is a blood trail to Marilyn Pharis’ bedroom,” he added.
According to CBS News, Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, 29, is one of the two suspects arrested for the crime.
Ramirez is an illegal immigrant from Durango Canatlan, Mexico. In the last 15 months, Ramirez has been arrested six times for crimes including possession of methamphetamine, sexual assault, weapons possession and driving without a license.
His latest arrest was eight days before Pharis’ attack.
In a statement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they didn’t issue an immigration detainer on Ramirez that would have led to deportation following his recent arrest before the attack.
The agency said, “Based on the agency’s enforcement priorities after a thorough review of his case history showed he had no prior deportations or felony criminal convictions.”
According to the ICE spokesperson, they did issue an immigration detainer on Ramirez in May 2014 after the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department arrested him.
ICE said that they requested to be notified prior to Ramirez’s release so they could pursue immigration enforcement. However, ICE claimed they weren’t notified and Ramirez was released a week later in 2014.
Ramirez and Jose Fernando Villagomez, 20, are both being charged with first-degree murder, burglary and rape, according to Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley. Ramirez is also charged with murder by torture.
Dudley, along with law enforcement and Pharis’ family, will decide if they are seeking the death penalty or life without possibility of parole.