OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A judge ruled Tuesday that prosecutors produced sufficient evidence to have two suspects stand trial on a murder charge for the brutal stabbing and burning death in 2016 of a 21-year-old San Leandro woman who was an Alameda County sheriff’s explorer.
Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer ordered postal worker Laura Rodgers and Curtys Entoine Taylor, both 24-year-old Oakland residents, to return to court on March 6 to be arraigned a second time in connection with the death of Karla Ramirez, whose body was found in a creek at the Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center in East Oakland just before noon on Nov. 3, 2016.
Ramirez was a volunteer with the sheriff’s explorer program, whose participants often go on to become law enforcement officers.
She had last been seen at about 10 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2016, when she dropped off a friend on 136th Avenue in San Leandro, police said.
Deputies located her vehicle at about 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2016, near Happyland Avenue and West A Street in Hayward, near Interstate Highway 880, but she had no known friends in that area, according to the sheriff’s office.
Officers who located Ramirez’s body observed that she had sustained multiple stab wounds and had been set on fire, Oakland police Sgt. Leo Sanchez wrote in a probable cause statement.
Investigators learned that before Ramirez disappeared she was possibly going to meet with a woman later identified as Rodgers, Sanchez said.
When investigators arrested Rodgers on the night of Nov. 3, 2016, she told them she had planned for several days to kill Ramirez and had discussed her plan with Taylor, according to Sanchez.
At the preliminary hearing today for Taylor and Rodgers, which was packed with their family members and friends as well as family members, friends and colleagues of Ramirez, prosecutor Brian Owens said Taylor and Rodgers were boyfriend and girlfriend but Taylor was upset that Rodgers was cheating on him by also having a relationship with Ramirez.
Taylor’s lawyer, David Bryden, said Taylor should only stand trial for being an accessory after the fact by helping Rodgers destroy evidence, arguing that Rodgers was the one who killed Ramirez and Taylor had no intent to kill Ramirez.
Under cross-examination by Bryden, Sanchez testified today that Rodgers told police that the slaying wasn’t Taylor’s fault and “I killed her (Ramirez) by myself.”
Bryden said Taylor knew Rodgers was talking about killing Ramirez but said Taylor didn’t think she was psychologically and physically capable of doing so.
But Owens said Taylor was an active aider and abettor because he provided the knife that Rodgers used to kill Ramirez and bought the gasoline can that was used to ignite and burn her.
Taylor told police after he was arrested that he and Rodgers discarded evidence, such as the knife, gas can, the clothing that Rodgers was wearing and Ramirez’s belongings into a Dumpster at a hotel, according to Sanchez.
A judge suspended criminal proceedings against Rodgers in January 2017 after two doctors concluded that she wasn’t competent to stand trial.
But after Rodgers was treated at the Napa State Hospital she later was deemed to be fit to stand trial.
Rodgers’ lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, said after the preliminary hearing today that he still believes that she has mental impairment issues and has been impacted by drug and alcohol abuse.
Stallworth said Rodgers’ mental state of mind at the time of the slaying will be explored further when the case goes to trial.
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