MONTEREY (CBS SF/BCN) — A Monterey County jury has convicted a King City man for raping a 10-year-old girl in 2018 after investigators obtained the prime suspect’s DNA from a discarded COVID mask more than two years after the crime.
The jury found 28-year-old Leonardo Ramirez Jr. guilty of several charges Tuesday in addition to the rape, including the infliction of bodily harm on a child and using a dangerous weapon. He will receive a mandatory sentence of life without parole.READ MORE: Antioch, Oakland Police Announce Arrests In Series Of Shootings Blamed On Gang War
The rape occurred Feb. 3, 2018, around 7 a.m., according to a press release issued Wednesday by Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine M. Pacioni.
The victim woke up to a man in her bedroom wearing a mask over his entire face holding what looked like a handgun.READ MORE: Regulators Rebuke PG&E For Neglect In Reducing Wildfire Risk
During an investigation lasting more than two years, police interviewed suspects and took DNA swabs in an unsuccessful effort to identify the suspect.
In February, however, Ramirez added the victim on SnapChat. Because Ramirez — a distant relative of the victim — was so much older than the girl, she became suspicious and remembered that he had a similar accent and build to her rapist.
The girl alerted police, who made numerous efforts over several months to obtain the suspect’s DNA without him realizing it. On May 20, 2020, the King City police set up a meeting with Ramirez at the police station. When he arrived, detectives threw away their masks and put on new ones.MORE NEWS: Clayton Man Pleads Guilty To Online Child Exploitation
They offered Ramirez a new mask as well, and the suspect discarded his old one into a waste bin lined with an evidence bag. Subsequent tests of the mask revealed a match with the rapist’s DNA.