Next week, Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson will consider a motion to recall the ‘life without parole’ (LWOP) sentence for convicted killer Nathan Joshua Ramazzini, and reduce it to 25 years to life.
The evidentiary hearing Ramazzini’s motion begins on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 9 AM, in the Colusa County Superior Court Annex.
The hearing, which was initially set for May but was rescheduled at the request of the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office, could last as long as four days, spanning from Oct. 23 through Oct. 26.
In 1997, Ramazzini, then 16, and Leopoldo “Leo” Contreras, then 19, were arrested after they killed 16-year-old Erik Ingebretson and left his body at a remote location on the east side of the Sacramento River, about a mile north of Colusa. Ingebretsen’s body was found there two days later. Contreras accepted a plea bargain from prosecutors and was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison. Ramazzini, who prosecutors believe was the driving force behind the killing, was tried as an adult. He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in July 1998.
Ramazzini has a statutory right to request the hearing under a subsection of California Penal Code Section 1170, which allows defendants who were under 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense for which they were sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole to submit to the sentencing court a petition for recall and re-sentencing after they have been incarcerated for at least 15 years. The statute was put in place after the passage of Senate Bill 9, which became law in Jan. 2013.
“Next week’s hearing is on the defendant’s motion to recall his sentence, where he’ll be asking the court to change his sentence from life without parole to 25 years to life, and to give him a parole date,” said District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp. “Of course, we oppose that. We believe that when Judge Abel sentenced Mr. Ramazzini, he did so with full consideration of the facts and of the heinous nature of Mr. Ramazzini’s acts. We believe that the life without parole sentence was fully deserved.”
If Ramazzini’s sentence is recalled and reduced, he would be eligible for parole in about five years, Beauchamp said.
“With time credits now, that could be sooner, but the (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) determines all of that,” he added.
Ingebretson’s sister, Devin Lombardi – who was 13 years old when her brother was murdered – will give a victim impact statement at the hearing, at the request of Beauchamp. “Justice for Erik” signs have been appearing around the county in recent weeks, as the community rallies to support Lombardi and the rest of Ingebretson’s family with the hearing looming. That’s something Lombardi said she’s thankful for.
“My heart, and my parents’ hearts are absolutely overrunning with gratitude at the support that’s been shown to us – not just about this re sentencing hearing, but for the past 21 years,” Lombardi said. “No one has ever let us down, and everyone has always been kind, and compassionate, and caring for my family, and have always step up to the plate when we need them. We’re just very, very grateful for the community we live in. We couldn’t do this without everyone’s support and encouragement.”
The community’s support for the Ingebretson family will be even more evident next week.
On Monday, Oct. 22 – the day before the hearing – a number of community members have planned a ribbon-tying night.
“We are going to meet on the courthouse lawn at 6 PM, and we are going to tie blue ribbons around Colusa in memory of my brother,” Lombardi said.
On Tuesday, the first day of the hearing, Lombardi is inviting “anybody who is against what is happening… to stand united in a peaceful approach, to show support for my family, and to show support against what we’re going through” on the old Courthouse Lawn at 8 AM.
“My biggest objective for Tuesday… is just to reach people so that there’s a bigger understanding of what is happening in California, and the devastating effects it can have on not just families, but on a community as a whole,” Lombardi said. “It’s a really big problem – the direction California is heading – and when we all come together at 8 AM on Tuesday, it’s just to show support for victims, because somewhere along the way, we have stopped mattering.” ■