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Death penalty wanted for USVI men accused of murdering Florida dentist

A grand jury has indicted Ralph Benjamin, left, and Hector Ledesma on first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Photo: VIC

FREDERIKSTED, St Croix, USVI- Prosecutors in Florida are seeking the death penalty for two male suspects from the US Virgin Islands (USVI) who have been charged with killing a Hialeah, Florida dentist.

A grand jury has indicted Ralph Benjamin and Hector Ledesma on first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. On Friday, January 10, 2020, both men pleaded not guilty.

A Hialeah police report says Mr Benjamin shot the dentist, Carmen Ramirez, multiple times on the stairwell leading to her dental office on East 41st Street in November 2019.

The men were arrested in the Miami International Airport in November attempting to board a one-way flight back to the territory, the Hialeah Police Department said. Ms Ramirez had sustained injuries in her face, neck and chest, and was in critical condition at the Jackson Memorial Hospital, with a bullet lodged near her heart. She died weeks later.

Police believe Mr Benjamin, 39, flew into Florida for the sole purpose of hunting down and killing the dentist. Mr Ledesma was living in Florida, but is also from the US Virgin Islands.

According to police, Ms Ramirez was walking to her office on East Eighth Avenue and 41st Street on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 about 10:00 am, when she was shot. The suspects fired 12 shots, with six hitting the victim, police said.

In October, 2018, Mr Ledesma's cousin, Cydmarie Cruz, submitted an article to The Consortium on Mr Ledesma's behalf, who was once incarcerated at the infamous Virginia Red Onion Super Max Prison. The article detailed alleged abuse that Mr Ledesma, who had been incarcerated for 13 years and 9 months, endured. Mr Ledesma was serving time after being convicted of rape in the territory.

Mr Benjamin has an open case in the US Virgin Islands for possession of a firearm by a felon.

Star witness

According to police, Ms Ramirez was the star witness in an identity fraud case out of Orlando, where a man is accused of stealing $40,000 from her business. The fraud suspect is facing 3-5 years in prison, and after an investigation, police found out that the man, identified as José Ledesma, is the brother of Hector Ledesma.

Police reviewed several surveillance videos to identify Hector and Mr Benjamin. “This is a targeted shooting,” Hialeah Police Major Hubert Ruiz said. “Our victim has been victimised by the same group of people in increasing fashion over the past couple of years. Everything we’ve learned about this case indicates that it was an assassination attempt.”

Police revealed that Mr Benjamin pulled the trigger, while Hector drove the getaway vehicle.

“Benjamin was flown into Florida for the sole purpose of hunting down and killing our victim, and we also believe Ledesma’s relationship to his brother, who faces jail time, leads us to our motive,” Mr Ruiz said. “They have been identified via CCTV footage, independent witness accounts and photo lineups.”  

Surveillance videos also captured the suspects visiting the area to become familiar with the dentist's whereabouts a day before committing the crime, police said.

Immediately following the incident in November, Ms Ramirez was in a coma, and Mr Ruiz acknowledged the possibility of the star witness of the case no longer being available to testify. “Just hours away — or really a plane ride away — from this becoming a cold case,” Mr Ruiz said.

10 Responses to “Death penalty wanted for USVI men accused of murdering Florida dentist”

  • Clearly (12/01/2020, 16:04) Like (0) Dislike (25) Reply
    Death penalty is in humane!
  • Florida (12/01/2020, 18:29) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yeah those idiots is going on death row. The State is going after them real hard.
  • Yep (12/01/2020, 18:47) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Death penalty for all destructive forces - murderers, adulterers,
  • NezRez (12/01/2020, 18:51) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    Death penalty is just fine for them. They took this woman's life, now they must feel what they gave her....DEATH!
  • Fran (12/01/2020, 22:56) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    So, his thieving brother steals money from the female Dentist. She is the star witness to what he stole from her. So his IDIOT brother thinks that if he kills her, there would be no witness, so charges against his brother would be dropped. Then he brings in another IDIOT to do the crime, then runs back to the islands and think they are home free. What kind of slime runs through their veins? Death penalty is fitting for this crime. Too bad they can't be shot to death the way they did her.
  • Norris Turnbull (13/01/2020, 05:13) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply

    What a waste of effort,time, and being dumb as ef*. They had NO right to do what they did. SAD

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