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USA No Contest Plea In Attack On Sikh Cabbie

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Jun 17, 2004
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One man will face 13 years in prison after pleading no contest Monday in the attack of a Sikh-American taxi driver in West Sacramento.

Natomas resident Pedro Antonio Ramirez, 42, received a hate crime enhancement in his sentencing. He also admitted to causing great bodily injury to Harbhajan Singh Nov. 28, 2010.

It was initially unclear whether Ramirez was going to take the plea offer.

West Sacramento resident Johnny Morales, 33, also pleaded no contest in the case. He will be placed on felony probation and will be sentenced to up to one year in county jail for his role in the assault.

The sentencing date for both men is April 1.

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/news/ci_17563506

With the agreement, Ramirez and Morales avoided a jury trial where jury selection was going to begin later Monday.

According to a statement from the Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven Monday, Singh was driving the defendants and their wives home from Harlow's Bar in Sacramento. He had a beard and was wearing a traditional Sikh turban. During the cab drive, Ramirez shouted racial epithets and accused Singh of being Muslim.

Ramirez punched Mr. Singh in the face about 10 times while Morales punched him from behind, Raven stated. The ongoing attack continued causing Singh to suffer multiple lacerations, a fracture of the orbital bone in his face and a spinal fracture. Ramirez attempted to pull Singh from the car but was prevented by the driver's seatbelt.

Ramirez's wife stopped the beating by throwing her body between Mr. Singh and her husband, Raven stated. Morales and Ramirez then pulled Ramirez's wife from the car, allowing Mr. Singh to escape in his taxi.

In a statement from Amar Shergill, Singh's attorney, he said Singh was pleased Ramirez and Morales admitted to their crimes and "will receive an appropriate sentence."

"(Singh) continues to have physical and mental symptoms related to the assault, however, he looks forward to returning to work and supporting his family," Shergill stated. "In light of the recent shooting of two elderly Sikh men in Elk Grove, the Sikh community takes some solace in the fact that law enforcement authorities aggressively prosecute these crimes and that the greater community has been so supportive."

Shergill was referring to the Elk Grove shooting that occurred Friday afternoon. Authorities say 65-year-old Surinder Singh was pronounced dead after he was shot as he walked on a sidewalk alongside another man in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove. The second man, 78-year-old Gurmej Atwal, was hospitalized in critical condition.

Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner said there was no evidence the shooting was a hate crime, but he said there was no other apparent motive.

During a press conference at the Sikh Temple in West Sacramento Monday, a reward of nearly $30,000 is being offered in the Elk Grove case.
 

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