A California man has been charged with a hate crime in the murder of a 20-year-old college student, who authorities say he targeted because of the victim's sexual orientation. Miguel Bautista Ramirez, age 25, is accused of killing 20-year-old Juan Ceballos, whom news reports describe as either gay or bisexual. Ramirez could potentially face the death penalty.
KESQ-TV has the story:
Miguel Angel Bautista Ramirez pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, a hate crime and a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait Friday in Indio.
Police arrested Ramirez Monday in connection with the shooting death of Juan Ceballos, 20, in Mecca on July 13. Ceballos... worked two jobs, one at TA of America gas station and at Pizza Hut. Deputies told us Ramirez and Juan were coworkers. A criminal complaint alleges Ramirez waited for Juan outside his home and shot and killed him because of his sexual orientation.
Sergio [Ceballos] said his brother, the oldest of five siblings, was shot several times in his car outside their apartment on Dale Kiner Road. He died bringing dinner home to their family. "He was coming home from work. He had pizza," said Sergio Ceballos. "He was messaging me. As soon as he parked it happened."
"Come outside" was the last text message Sergio got from his older brother. Seconds later Sergio heard two gunshots. "I ran out to check on him, but he was already dead," said Sergio Ceballos.
KMIR News adds that the reason Ceballos was working two jobs is because in addition to putting himself through school, he was helping to support his mother and four siblings. On his brother being targeted due to his sexual orientation, Sergio Ceballos said:
"If it was because of that, that was a stupid reason... he said that he was he was looking for happiness in a world full of evil, maybe he was right. The world is full of evil, and I just don't know why they ever did this to him... He was our guide, everything that we have now, we owe it to him...I'm going to continue with all this, but I'm going to have to do it without him."