Nathan Ramazzini, 38, will be resentenced in Colusa County Superior Court on Friday after he admitted in court that he planned and executed his childhood best friend, Erik Ingebretsen, in 1997, when both were just 16 years old.
Ramazzini was expected to testify through Thursday, but District Attorney Mathew Beauchamp decided to cut short his cross examination of the killer after just a few hours on Wednesday, when Ramazzini contradicted much of what his defense witness, Nancy Kaser-Boyd, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist and advocate (according to her Twitter account) for banning life sentences without parole for minors who kill.
Kaser-Boyd testified on Tuesday that Ingebretsen’s death was likely the act of a mentally-underdeveloped and impulsive teenager that succumbed to peer pressure, but Ramazzini’s testimony the following day may have sent that defense into upheaval, depite multiple warnings from Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson that he had the right not to incriminate himself, and that anything he said may be used against him.
“I didn’t need to bring out more evidence from the trial and put people through it,” Beauchamp said later. “Ramazzini admitted to being a driving force in the murder and that Erik would still be alive if it wasn’t for him.”
Ramazzini also admitted that he lied to Kaser-Boyd when she interviewed him in 2016.
Ingebretsen was murdered on July 16, 1997, after Ramazzini and another friend Leo Contreras, then 19, used a ruse to lure him to the Sacramento River, where Ramazzini killed his longtime friend with a baseball bat, striking him at least four times in the head, all of which the coroner deemed to be lethal blows, before he and Contreras used a butcher knife to mutilate Ingebretsen’s dead body, a jury determined in 1998.
“I should have been a better friend,” Ramazzini said during Wednesday’s hearing. “I should have valued his life.”
Ramazzini was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, but under California’s new leniency laws for minors, including SB 260 (youth offender parole) and SB 9 (youth offender resentencing), signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Ramazzini could be released in as early as four years if he convinced Thompson that he is or could be rehabilitated enough to re-enter society without posing a danger to others.
That is a tough order, given that investigators, prosecutors, computer-generated results of a personality test administered by his defense, and Ingebretsen’s family, all indicate that Ramazzini continues to exhibit deep sociopathic tendencies, despite managing to stay out of trouble in prison for five years in a security housing unit, typically reserved for pedophiles and prison informants, while completing his education and taking self-help courses.
Ramazzini showed almost no emotion throughout most of his testimony, still claiming after 20 years that Contreras suggested “taking care of Erik,” but admitting that they both planned and executed Ingrebretsen’s murder.
Ramazzini admitted he wore his father’s shoes to disguise his footprints, that he borrowed his father’s car, that they placed the bat and knife in the car, that they picked up Ingebretsen from Holiday Market after his shift, and that they lured their friend to the river.
Although Ramazzini denies ever using the knife, he admitted that he beat his friend to death, that he disposed of his bloody clothes, and that he later washed the bloody bat and put it back in his room.
Ramazzini, who was arrested two days later, showed little emotion when he described the planning, the execution, and the cover-up of the murder. He showed no emotion when asked to stand up and demonstrate, as if holding a bat, the force of the blows.
He was, however, slightly more animated when he talked about how he, Contreras, Garcia, and other boys, while in high school, drank alcohol, smoked marijuana, vandalized the high school, committed burglary, set fire to a Hindu place of worship, and called in bomb threats. He said he felt lucky then to be a part of that circle of friends.
“That is who I wanted to gravitate to,” he said. “I was totally immersed in the group. I felt that I finally found a group who totally accepted me.”
Ramazzini said they, along with a few older boys, had the motto “be ready, be willing, be able.”
“It’s like the Nike ad – Just do it!” Ramazzini said. “I killed Erik.”
Although Ramazzini’s defense for resentencing relied heavily on Kaser-Boyd’s testimony that peer pressure and fear for his own life drove Ramazzini to go along with a murder, Ramazzini admitted on Wednesday there would have been no consequences had he not gone along with the plan, nor would Contreras have killed Ingebretsen without him.
“I could have said no many times,” he said. “I was going to be there for Leo. I was going to ‘be down.’ I was going to do this.”
Closing arguments in the case will be heard at 8:30 AM in Colusa County Superior Court.
Full coverage of the hearing and victim witness statements will be in the Oct. 31, 2018 issue of the Pioneer Review.