Joseph Ramirez Perez, 21, was booked for murder and assault with a deadly weapon. (SMPD)

City News Service

The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of a man convicted of murdering an 18-year-old transient at Tongva park.

Jesse Ramirez-Perez was convicted in September 2019 of second-degree murder for the Oct. 3, 2018, stabbing of Eric Perrine, who died on his way to the hospital.

In a ruling last December that upheld Ramirez-Perez’s conviction, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of a prior assault by the defendant and by failing to instruct jurors on self-defense and the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter.

That defendant stabbed and killed Perrine was not seriously disputed at trial. Indeed, evidence of these facts was overwhelming,” the appellate court panel found in its Dec. 21 ruling. “Perrine identified defendant as his assailant to police officers. Officers found defendant fleeing the scene and witnessed him throwing the knife into a planter box when they confronted him.

After arresting defendant, officers recovered the knife. DNA testing found defendant’s and Perrine’s DNA on the knife’s handle and Perrine’s blood on its blade.”

Jurors heard evidence that Ramirez-Perez struck another homeless man in the face with a two-foot length of rebar while the victim was sleeping earlier that year, but the jury did not hear that he was convicted of felony assault by means likely to inflict great bodily injury for that attack, according to the ruling.

“Both attacks occurred in parks, against homeless individuals, and within approximately six months of one another,” the appellate court justices noted. “In each instance, defendant used a weapon to inflict a single wound to the victim and then fled. Although the wounds were to different parts of the victims’ bodies (a solid steel bar strike to the head and a knife stab to the chest), each support an inference that defendant acted deliberately, with conscious disregard for the danger to the lives of both victims.”

The panel found that the full court record “permits no reasonable conclusion that defendant acted in self-defense pursuant to a fight or struggle,” noting that he had committed an “unprovoked assault against a similar victim in a similar location.”

Ramirez-Perez is serving a 15-years-to-life state prison sentence.