By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
FONDA -- Through the first two days of his double homicide trial in Montgomery County Court, and most of the third day Friday, 31-year-old Ivan Ramos appeared calm and collected.
But a recording of a phone call Ramos made from the county jail on March 6, 2012, that was played for the jury Friday seemed to strike a nerve, based on the choice words Ramos slung at District Attorney James E. "Jed" Conboy during a subsequent recess.
Ramos was incarcerated after he was charged with criminal possession of stolen property. State Police Inv. Israel Toro testified Friday he and Amsterdam Police Det. John DiCaprio arrested Ramos on the unrelated charge after Ramos opted to leave during an interview with police about the March 2 stabbing deaths of William McDermott and Cheryl Goss.
Ramos is on trial now and accused of killing the pair, and former county sheriff's office Inv. Bradley Schaffer testified Friday that he produced the aforementioned recording for APD during its investigation. Schaffer said he had met Ramos face-to-face a half dozen times prior to hearing the call and recognized Ramos' voice when he reviewed the booking calls that day.
Schaffer also produced a booking call sheet dated March 6 to March 10, a sheet uniformly used to log inmates' use of the phone. The sheet's disclaimer warns the calls are recorded, he said.
Mark Juda, Ramos' attorney, objected to the recording's entry as evidence, complaining Schaffer had never spoke to Ramos on the phone and therefore didn't believe he had a proper foundation for comparison.
County Judge Felix Catena overruled the objection, and the recording was played:
A phone rang several times, and when it was answered, a man greeted Ramos by his first name. A woman then got on the line, who Ramos called "Ma."
He said he did what she told him to do, adding he will "try to work a deal now."
"I'm not going to be charged with muerte [murder] ," Ramos said. He then asked the woman if she'd spoke to Patrina, his wife, and she confirmed "everyone is OK."
"OK. You know, if anyone wants to retaliate against me, or hurt them," Ramos said. "But I'm going to be charged with, like, burglary."
"But that's what you are. You're a thief, not a killer," the woman said.
"Are you going to hate me?" Ramos asked.
"Why am I going to hate you? You're my son," she said.
"As long as I know you didn't do it, I'm fine," the woman said.
"How about if I did?" Ramos asked.
"Well, if you did, it's unbelievable, but I don't think so," she said.
"Are you going to hate me?" Ramos asked again.
"No, I'm not going to hate you, Ivan," she said.
The pair continued their conversation for several minutes, then Ramos said, "If it works out, it works out, if it don't, then I'm going to be here the rest of my life."
"I don't think so, you don't got no cuts," the woman said.
"Don't do it to yourself, ma," Ramos said.
"So what are you trying to say?" she asked.
"I can't say now over the phone ... Just don't hate me ... I just hope my kids don't hate me," Ramos said, his voice emotional.
The call ended shortly thereafter, Schaffer was excused from the stand, and the court took a short recess. Ramos and Juda exited briefly, and when they re-entered the court room, they continued to have a conversation while seated at the defendant's table.
"I didn't confess to anything," Ramos said to Juda. "They're just statements."
Ramos continued to talk to his attorney, and when he overheard his name, Conboy asked Ramos what he said.
"You ain't got s---, you f------ peckerhead," Ramos said to Conboy, who did not react nor respond.
Juda whispered to Ramos, who replied, "I'm fine, I just had to get ... I'm fine, I'm fine."
In later testimony, Toro reviewed notes of his interview with Ramos about his activities the night before the homicides.
Much of Ramos' interview corroborated with witness accounts of the evening, through his stop at Terry Dallas Reedy's Reid Street apartment around 3:15 a.m.
From there, Ramos said he walked back to the Woodrow Road apartments.
But his description of his attire was much different than witnesses remembered him wearing -- a camouflage jacket and gray sweatpants. Ramos said he had on black boots with straps, jeans and a Carhartt jacket.
When asked about his camouflage jacket, Ramos told Toro he sold it to a man in Broadalbin for $30. When Toro asked him about surveillance footage from Sikorski's that showed someone walking away from Locust wearing the camouflage coat, Ramos said it was the insert to the camouflage jacket, a statement "inconsistent" with his earlier comment about the Carhartt jacket, Toro said.
Toro said Ramos then told him he sold the insert to a man named Nutters that he met on Bartlett Street, and eventually went home to 222 Woodrow Road, where his daughter let him in the house.
Ramos' niece on Wednesday testified she was baby-sitting her cousins that morning, and remembered hearing her uncle climb into the house from a first-floor window.
During questioning, Toro said he asked Ramos if he knew why he was at the police station.
"He said he didn't know and he didn't care because he didn't do anything," Toro said.
Toro said he told Ramos the department was investigating a double homicide, after which Ramos "teared up and started talking about the old man [Ramos' nickname for McDermott], and how they 'clicked it off' ever since they met through [Reedy]."
Toro said he never told Ramos that McDermott was dead.
Other testimonies Friday included:
* Stephen Pasquarelli, a K-9 officer with APD whose partner is Hyde. Was called to work March 2 around 7 a.m. to perform a track with Hyde. Started in the vicinity of Wilbur Street, behind the Locust Avenue apartment, and tracked the footprints to the three-way intersection of Clizbe Avenue, Sloane Avenue and Second Avenue. Pasquarelli said kids were waiting for the school bus there, and at that point, the track was lost because of "too much contamination."
* Thomas Hennessy, APD detective. Testified about a series of photographs he snapped, including some from the back of the apartment at 222 Woodrow Road. They depict shoe prints in the snow that feature a herringbone pattern, a pattern police said was evident of the single tract of prints that led away from the back door of McDermott's apartment. Also reviewed pictures he took of Ramos at the police station that show cuts on Ramos' head, torso and arms, as well as Ramos' swollen right hand. Also reviewed a picture of Craig McCormick, who testified Thursday he found McDermott and Goss dead around 5 a.m.
Juda continued to question tactics in the police's investigation. He asked Hennessy if he took pictures of McCormick's face and torso, as he did of Ramos. Hennessy said no.
* Leon Pratt, APD detective. Conducted the search at 222 Woodrow Road on March 2 and recovered black Nike sneakers with a herringbone pattern on the soles, which were defaced. Also recovered rolls of clear trash bags from the home, and a clear trash bag from the apartment complex's nearby garbage facility. It was filled with wet clothes, including medical scrubs and two pairs of light gray sweatpants. Patrina Ramos testified Wednesday she's a CNA at St. Mary's Hospital, and has a washer, but not a dryer. Both pairs of sweatpants were submitted to state police forensic labs for testing.