Four years and a month after the terrifying Night Stalker murder spree ended, Richard Ramirez heard the jury's recommendation that he die in the gas chamber and defiantly said "see you in Disneyland."
Ramirez, a lanky, devil-worshipping drifter from El Paso, Texas, heard the judge say "death" 19 times Wednesday after the jury that convicted him of 13 Night Stalker murders and 30 other robbery and sex crimes recommended he be executed in the gas chamber for a series of nocturnal attacks that galvanized Southern California with fear.Led in chains to the van that took him from the courthouse, Ramirez said in a husky and chilling voice: "Big deal. Death always went with the territory."
Ramirez, dressed all in black, listened impassively, rocking in his chair and glaring over his shoulder at spectators in the packed courtroom as the jury's decisions were read.
Relatives of victims sobbed quietly as Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan announced the recommendations, which he can accept or reject when he formally sentences Ramirez Nov. 7. A death sentence is automatically appealed to the California Supreme Court.
The jury of seven women and five men, rejecting defense pleas to spare Ramirez's life because "even the devil deserves mercy," reached its decision shortly after resuming deliberations for a fifth day in the penalty phase of Ramirez's 15-month trial.
"I think he got what he deserved," said one juror, Arthur Johnson, 43, a Los Angeles mail carrier. "Maybe Satan will give him his reward."
Another juror, Cynthia Haden, 36, a bank employee who lives just two blocks from the scene of a double Stalker murder in suburban Glendale, said she has had nightmares since seeing police photographs of the gruesome murders. "I'll get over it, but I'll never be the same. We did the right thing."
Ramirez, 29, faces only two possible sentences: death in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison or life behind bars without the possibility of parole.