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Union Park assailant will spend no more time in jail

A man who attacked a Medford community gardener was resentenced after his victim spoke in court, but will not serve any additional jail time for the crime.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia on Tuesday reaffirmed an earlier sentence he handed down of three years' probation for Eric Ivan Ramirez, 23, plus the 30 days Ramirez had already spent in jail before reaching a plea agreement. Mejia imposed an additional punishment on Tuesday of $955 in restitution.

Mejia said the first sentence followed Oregon sentencing guidelines and there was no reason to change it despite the fact that the victim, Ronald Graham, had not been informed of the plea agreement and didn't receive notice to testify about the impact of the crime when Ramirez was first sentenced on Aug. 24.

A new sentencing hearing was scheduled Tuesday to allow Graham the chance to speak about how he has been affected by the June 24 attack that came when he was tending tomatoes at the Union Park community garden in west Medford.

Graham said he continues to have pain after being punched and kicked by Eric and Eddie Ramirez. Eddie Ramirez's case has yet to be resolved. Graham did not know the assailants before the attack.

Graham said the two acted as if they considered Union Park to be their territory.

Graham said Eric Ramirez has a history of criminal conduct and likes to go by the street name "Criminal."

"I ask the court that the defendant Eric 'Criminal' Ramirez be resentenced to a more strict punishment for this senseless attack that he had pled guilty to — something more in line with the severity of the crime perpetrated against me," Graham said in court.

After the court hearing, Graham said he was disappointed that the judge had to follow Oregon sentencing guidelines and couldn't impose prison time.

On Aug. 24, Eric Ramirez pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a felony.

He has a history of past criminal conduct with convictions for first-degree theft in 2012, disorderly conduct for threatening motorists, fourth-degree assault and harassment in separate cases in 2013, and second-degree theft in 2014. The first-degree theft charge, a felony, was reduced to a misdemeanor. The other charges were all misdemeanors, according to court records.

Fourth-degree assault is generally a misdemeanor under Oregon law, except under certain conditions, such as that the defendant had previously attacked the same victim or committed the attack in the presence of a child.

Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert said Eric Ramirez now has a felony violent crime on his record and will be sentenced more harshly in the future if he commits another crime.

Ramirez was jailed on Friday after missing a Friday resentencing hearing. He spent the weekend in jail and was taken by Jackson County Sheriff's Office deputies to the rescheduled hearing Tuesday.

Heckert said she didn't know whether Ramirez would be released from jail on Tuesday. He has violated his probation for another case and could be jailed for that, she said. He was still listed in the jail late Tuesday evening.

Heckert apologized to Graham that he was not notified of Ramirez's original sentencing on Aug. 24.

She said the court sends sentencing hearing notices to staff in the DA's office, including the victim's advocate.

A staff member who checked and cleared a reminder that was sent to her accidentally also cleared the reminder sent to victims' services, Heckert said.

Staff in the DA's office are now double-checking information to make sure there are no more errors, she said.

Graham said he is trying to get on with his life, but the attack made him afraid to venture outside alone. He said it also had an effect on the whole west Medford neighborhood where he lives and liked to garden.

After the attack, community gardeners organized themselves in pairs and carried baseball bats and pepper spray just to water vegetables, Graham said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Eric Ivan Ramirez