Heather Nellis/Recorder staff Convicted murderer Ivan Ramos is escorted by corrections officers to a van from the Montgomery County Courthouse Wednesday morning. Ramos was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole in connection to the stabbing deaths of Cheryl Goss and William McDermott.
Heather Nellis/Recorder staff Erin McDermott Connelly, right, and Kelly Faboskay hug outside the Montgomery County Courthouse Wednesday. Connelly's father, William McDermott, was murdered with Faboskay's mother, Cheryl Goss, in a Locust Avenue apartment last year.
By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
FONDA -- A month after smiling brightly at the daughter of a man he was convicted of stabbing to death, Ivan Ramos wasn't smiling at her Wednesday.
His eyes were glued to Sarah McDermott as she hurled scathing words toward him during his sentencing hearing at Montgomery County Court, after which he was punished with a life sentence without parole.
"You still think things are funny, like the day you were convicted?" she asked him. "I see a different appearance from you today. Maybe the fact you will spend the rest of your life behind bars is catching up to you."
Ramos' face was blank, and did not change as one by one, Erin McDermott Connelly, Kevin McDermott, and Kelly and Hope Faboskay followed suit in remarks why they believed Ramos was deserving of the maximum sentence for killing William McDermott and Cheryl Goss a year ago.
They all asked why he did it.
"There are only three people who really know what happened -- two are not here, and the third is not talking. The question I have that will haunt me and my family for the rest of my life is 'Why?'" asked Kevin McDermott, Billy's older brother. "You're two times his size, yet you brutally murdered him. What kind of a man are you?"
Hope Faboskay asked him the same.
"How could you do that? All you had to do was knock them out. They were both so much smaller than you. Why did you have to stab them?"
Ramos, 31, maintained his innocence, and told Judge Felix Catena he will appeal his conviction and sentence.
"I did not brutally kill, or was involved in, murdering either one of Mr. McDermott or Cheryl Goss," Ramos said.
But a jury said he did.
After a two-week trial, on Feb. 1, Ramos was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
In the pre-dawn hours of March 2, 2012, he entered McDermott's apartment, and stabbed the pair to death, leaving behind his own blood in the struggle, and his footprints and fingerprints in the victims' blood.
Sarah McDermott theorized her father let Ramos in the apartment that night, as he'd done on other occasions to help a friend in need.
Both she and Hope Faboskay said they'd met Ramos prior to the murders. Sarah said her father often gave Ramos a place to crash, while Faboskay said Ramos was friends with her brother.
A motive has never been pinpointed, but police believe drugs could have been a factor. Witnesses testified to smoking crack with the pair at McDermott's Locust Avenue apartment the night before the murders, and Ramos' blood was found on a crack pipe and tissues tucked away in McDermott's dresser drawer.
Kevin McDermott talked about his brother's addiction.
"My brother lived a different life than most of us. As the defense attorney tried to point out in trial, he was addicted to drugs. But what a lot of people don't know, is why," he said.
Billy suffered from a rare brain disorder that caused him extreme pain, and a clicking in his head that was so loud, if standing next to him, it could be heard, his brother said. He started taking pain medications to cope, and later found a Pennsylvania doctor who believed the pain could be alleviated with brain surgery.
"It didn't work, it never alleviated his problem," Kevin said. "That's when he started taking drugs. Addiction is a terrible thing. It's indiscriminate. Although he made bad choices in life, he was definitely not a bad person."
Kevin McDermott also talked about a recorded phone call Ramos made to his mother from the county jail after his March arrest on an unrelated crime.
Ramos was incarcerated March 6, 2012, and charged with stealing a piece of construction equipment, because he reportedly opted to leave during an interview about the murders.
Kevin McDermott said that phone call has stuck with him since he heard it during the trial. During the call, Ramos told his mother he wasn't charged with murder, but burglary.
"But that's what you are. You're a thief, not a killer," Ramos' mother said during the call.
"She was right, she just didn't know how -- he stole so much from so many people," Kevin said. "He stole from my parents. At this age, you're not supposed to bury your kids. He stole from Billy's and Cheryl's grandchildren. He stole from my nieces, Billy's children. And he stole from Billy and Cheryl, he stole their lives. She was right, he's a thief."
Kelly Faboskay said in addition to her and her sister, Hope, and several brothers, Cheryl is survived by three young children, including a 10-year-old. Both Kelly and Hope recently had baby girls, who will never meet their grandmother.
"Every day, we cry," she said, sobbing into her hand. "I don't sleep."
"A person like you -- God shouldn't have given you life. You shouldn't be here right now," she added.
Hope Faboskay said she and her sister lost their father last year, too.
"You're hurting us, bad," she said. "You took a lot from us. Now, I don't have anybody."
"I hate you. I hope you rot," she said later.
Kelly said she remembers having a conversation with her mother three weeks before her murder.
"She had a confrontation with you," she told Ramos. "You were acting crazy with her. I said, 'Mom, you shouldn't be hanging out with that guy. Nothing good can come of it.' And look what happened. I knew you murdered my mother."
Total, 41 witnesses testified in the trial, and more than 150 pieces of evidence and demonstrative exhibits were presented to the jury, including gruesome photos and video of the scene, and the victims' mutilated bodies.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Sikirica testified that both victims had extensive number of non-fatal incise and stab wounds across their bodies, particularly McDermott, who would have had to struggle with Ramos between 15 to 30 minutes to get that number of wounds.
Both bled to death, with fatal wounds to their necks. McDermott's windpipe was pierced, and he choked on his own blood, while one of Goss' major veins was cut.
Some of the most jarring facets of the crime were that McDermott escaped at one point, but was dragged through the building hallway back into his apartment, and the bedroom door Goss had locked to keep out Ramos was opened with such force it dismantled the door frame.
"I had to explain to my son what happened to Papa Bill -- I had to say someone hurt him," said Connelly, McDermott's daughter. "He asked me if a monster hurt him, and I said, 'Yes, that's exactly who hurt him, a monster.'"
County District Attorney James E. "Jed" Conboy, who successfully prosecuted the case, told Catena that Ramos is a wild animal who needs to be caged for the rest of his life.
"Wild animals normally shun contact with human beings. But occasionally, a wild animal crosses the line and invades humanity. When that happens, the wild animal has to be dealt with. The wild animal has to be dispatched, so that wild animal does not inflict anymore violence on human beings."
"Ivan Ramos is an animal," Conboy continued. "The only thing remotely human about him is that he has opposable thumbs."
Catena said a combination of factors led him to impose the most severe sentence allowed under Ramos' conviction, including the brutal nature of the crimes, Ramos' "unrepentant attitude, even to point of gloating," and "uncivilized, out-of-control behavior."
Prior to his sentence, Ramos accused Catena of sleeping on the bench through the trial, which Catena refuted. Throughout the trial, Ramos was combative with the court, and on several occasions, hurled insults and curses toward Conboy.
It was even alleged Ramos threatened to harm his attorney, public defender Mark Juda, upon the verdict.
"This court believes you're incapable to live in a free society which requires people to observe basic and simple rules. You've demonstrated contempt for those rules, and an inability to follow them," Catena said.
Ramos was remanded back to prison. He's currently serving a three-year sentence at the Elmira Correctional Facility in connection to his conviction of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Ramos was also sentenced to 25 years in prison last month for a recent burglary conviction in connection to a November 2011 home invasion on Guy Park Avenue. Another home invasion case from October 2011 is still pending in court.
"His history has led up to this day. He started as a petty punk, and has graduated to a full-blown murderer," Conboy said.