Trial begins for Princeville man accused of killing his parents

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. — The bench trial for the 22-year-old man accused of killing his parents last fall kicked off Friday and prosecutors said he admitted to the slayings to law enforcement.

The 9-1-1 call was played Friday, and prosecutors said Princeville man Jose G. Ramirez initially claimed he hadn’t seen his parents and was scared about where they were. He asked for officers to come to his home on Maher Drive on Oct. 28, 2018. When asked if he tried calling his parents, he said “No.”

He told prosecutors there was blood on his parents’ carpet in front of the doorway. Dispatch had asked if there were any guns in the house, to which Ramirez replied, “We don’t do guns.”

The first witness to take the stand said she was with Human Resources at Bradley University and was a colleague of Susan and Antonio.

The second witness was the man who took the 911 call from Ramirez. He confirmed the 911 call played was exactly as it happened.

The third witness was Timothy Lee Gilmore, a Sheriff’s Deputy at the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office.

Gilmore responded to the home on Maher in Princeville first by himself.

Gilmore said Jose was at the home when he arrived along with an Emily Roberts.

“There were blood drops right at the entrance,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore said some cabinets were open in the kitchen and there were cleaning supplies on the floor.

He then recounted his journey through the house.

“By the last door on the right, I noticed blood on the floor. There was a runner carpet in the hallway when I pulled it back, I noticed a pool of blood,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore claimed the room was the bedroom of Susan and Antonio.

He found blood all over the bedroom and then called his Lt. and requested for lab to come out.

Ramirez and his friend 21-year-old Matthew J. Roberts both face two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Ramirez’s parents, Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron. Last year, authorities claimed Ramirez allegedly pepper-sprayed his father and then stabbed him in the stomach and the neck while the couple was asleep. He also allegedly pepper-sprayed his mother, and stabbed her in the stomach then neck. Ramirez gave a second testimony saying he hit them with a baseball bat.

On Oct. 29, 2018, a day after the slayings, a Peoria County sheriff’s deputy took Ramirez to the sheriff’s office for questioning. Prosecutors played the video of the interview, where Ramirez eventually confessed.

“What do you want me to say? I killed them,” he said. “[…] I proceeded to clean up as much as possible then tried to make it look like a robbery gone wrong.”

Ramirez said he destroyed his parents’ phones after, and he used one camping tent and one tarp to get his parents out of the house, put their bodies in his dad’s car, then used the car to leave.

He said he was around 10-15 miles north of Kewannee where he threw his parents over a bridge. Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood had said the bodies were found near the Spoon River, near Illinois Route 78.

In the second recorded interview it shows deputies speaking with Ramirez and asking him to be honest about where the bodies really were.

The couple both worked at Bradley University.

If convicted, Ramirez and Roberts both face at least 20 years in prison.

Ramirez claimed Roberts didn’t actually assist in killing his parents, but he did help load their bodies into Antonio’s car and take them to the bridge where they were disposed of. He said he threw his mother’s body over the bridge railing into the water on his own, but Roberts helped toss his father’s body in the river next.

Ramirez told Roberts’ sister Emily about the slayings and she allegedly helped him clean out Antonio’s car. She was also with Ramirez when he made the 9-1-1 call.

He also claimed he hated his parents, but said he had not planned to actually kill them until two days before the incident.

The fourth witness took the stand, a deputy with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office.

This deputy said he took Jose to a house on North Street in Princeville the night of the 911 call, later found to be the home of Emily Roberts, Matthews’ sister.

For reference, the call happened on Sunday, Oct. 28.

On Monday, Oct. 29, the deputy to Jose to the sheriff’s office to interview him.

This deputy was a part of both recorded interviews shown in court on Friday.

Deputies found an old letter Jose wrote to his parents. They said it was obvious Jose had a lot of turmoil in his life. It was not stated what it exactly was written in the letter.

“That’s an old letter,” Jose said.

“Does any of the gaming world play into this?” a deputy asked.

“No,” Ramirez replied scoffing.

“You know why I have to ask right?” the deputy asks.

“Kids these day,” Ramirez responds.

Jose said he smokes weed and/or takes dabs. He has also done a few psychedelics.

But he claims, “I don’t do hard drugs. Never have, never will,” Ramirez said.

In a recorded interview, Ramirez said there was no physical abuse from his parents.

“I’m 250, I don’t let people slap me around,” Ramirez said.

Deputies asked Ramirez about his mental health and if he was depressed.

“Depression has always been a problem, but I don’t let it get to me,” Jose said.

Jose said he and Roberts began planning of killing Jose’s parents on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.

They thought about poisoning them.

During the second interview Jose asked, “Hey, why’d you put me on suicide watch? It was annoying.”

Deputies said it was because Ramirez had told them he had suicidal thoughts ‘every second.’

After deputies leave, Jose begins talking to himself.

“I’m sorry Matt, I done ****ed up,” Ramirez said. “His mom’s gonna kill me. Oh well, I deserve it.”

The fifth witness is Captain Chris Watkins with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office. He was part of the search crew for Jose’s parents.

Watkins says he found a camping tent wrapped in branches in the Spoon River. He kept walking and found a tarp. Both appeared to have something in them.

Mr. Barron was found in the tarp, and Susan Brill de Ramirez was in the tent according to Capt. Watkins.

The sixth and final witness Friday was Johnathan Hill, Crime Scene Investigator for the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office.

Hill said he found mail in the mailbox with Friday’s date (Oct. 26, 2018). It was found on Sunday, the 28th.

Hill developed a diagram of the residence. He said he was looking for any sort of forced entry on the home. He didn’t find any on windows and doors.

Hill said he attended the autopsy with Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood.

He said he found two stab wounds in Antonio’s side, multiple slices on his throat, trauma to the head, and his right ear was destroyed.

He claimed Susan had tears on her head, multiple stab wounds, and slice marks on her neck as well.

Earlier in a recorded interview, we heard that Jose said the front door was always unlocked.

Prosecutors show photos from the night Jose made the 911 call.

Anything from basic pictures of the outside of the home, to blood found inside the home.

After photos were shown, prosecutors brought evidence into the courtroom in brown bags.

The knife that was allegedly used was shown, as well as the tarp and tent the Ramirez parents were allegedly put in.

Ramirez said in an interview he went to his parents’ home at 11:30 Thursday night, and waited until 12:01 a.m. to go into the home.

Jose said he left his phone at Emily Watson’s home on North Street in Princeville when he went to his parents home, leaving the location on.

Ramirez said Matthew Roberts probably helped him because he had ‘nothing to lose.’

Judge Gorman put in the order for Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 1:00 p.m.

Follow along for live updates.

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