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Jury finds man who fatally burned mother in Indio guilty of murder

11-13-GUARDADO-COURT-GFX

A 38-year-old Utah man has been found guilty of first-degree murder for fatally burning his mother in Indio last year.

Israel Ramirez Guardado, who acted as his own attorney, offered his summation this afternoon at the Larson Justice Center in Indio. The jury deliberated for about an hour before reaching their verdict.

Guardado could face the death penalty for his crimes. The penalty phase of the trial will begin on Thursday.

Opening statements were similarly brief, differing from the lengthy jury selection process that took over a week.

Guardado told the jury this afternoon that he is "fine with whatever (they decide.)"

He was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated mayhem and torture, with a special circumstance allegation of inflicting torture in the commission of a murder.

Guardado is accused of setting his 61-year-old mother, Francisca Ramirez of North Shore, on fire at the loading dock outside the Mathis Brothers furniture store where she worked on Jan. 26, 2018.

Prosecutors initially charged Guardado with attempted murder and torture, and amended the complaint to add a murder charge after his mother's death at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where she lingered for several weeks before succumbing to her injuries.

If jurors convict Ramirez of murder and find true the special circumstance allegation, a penalty trial would follow in which the same jury would be tasked with recommending either death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

A motive for the killing has not been specifically stated by police and prosecutors, though a declaration filed with the court by Indio police Detective Jesse Marin alleged the defendant, who was living out of his car at the time, traveled to Indio `with the purpose ofsettling matters' with family members, which included his mother.''

Guardado had been at odds with his mother over the custody of his teenage daughter, and he likely went to the store to speak with her about it, according to a trial brief filed by the prosecution.

An argument ensued, and he allegedly doused his mother's head with gasoline and ignited it. Before the flames could be extinguished by witnesses, she had suffered second- and third-degree burns to 50% of her body.

Immediately after he allegedly set his mother aflame, Guardado drove to the Indio Jail and surrendered.

While in the hospital, she identified her son as her alleged attacker, police said.

The defendant's Facebook posts in the months leading up to the attack revealed a troubled relationship with his mom, according to the prosecution's brief. On Dec. 26, 2017, the defendant wrote, ``This will be my last post. … I will show everyone the truth next month when I go to Kali live on Facebook.''

On Jan. 1, 2018, the defendant wrote, ``Times up… I'm coming for you,'' an apparent threat directed at the victim, prosecutors allege.

On Jan. 19, 2018, the defendant wrote, ``I'm back in Kali and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to clear my… keep watching this won't go past Wednesday, just ask my mom,'' according to documents.

Ramirez, who is being held without bail at the Indio Jail, has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.

Crime / News

Sam Benson Smith

Sam Benson Smith is the Digital Content Director for Gulf California Broadcasting. Learn more about Sam here.

City News Service

Dani Romero

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