LINCOLN — A second murder trial has been delayed for a Nebraska prison inmate after his attorneys claimed that state prosecutors had missed a “speedy trial” deadline to hold the court proceedings.
The first trial of Eric Ramos, who is accused of killing another inmate during a 2017 prison riot at the Tecumseh State Prison, ended in a mistrial. A second trial had been scheduled to begin Aug. 10.
But attorneys for Ramos recently filed a motion to “discharge” the first-degree murder charge against him, maintaining that the trial should have been held back in June or earlier.
State law requires that a trial be held within six months of a charge being filed, but the calculation of that time period was complicated in Ramos’ case by the mistrial and then an unsuccessful appeal to the State Court of Appeals.
Johnson County District Court Judge Vicky Johnson took the discharge motion under advisement Thursday after a court hearing. She also postponed the second trial and asked lawyers to file written arguments on the speedy trial issue.
Ramos, 30, is accused in the slaying of Michael Galindo, one of two inmates found dead in March 2017 after prisoners took over a portion of a maximum-security housing unit at Tecumseh. The prisoners started fires and ransacked cells.
At the first trial, prosecutors said that Ramos was one of four inmates responsible for the slaying. But Ramos’ attorneys maintained there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime and that he was a victim of misidentification.
Grainy surveillance tape was shown during the first trial showing inmates, in the smoky housing unit, with towels over their faces.
The uprising began after a search of cells in a housing unit found 29 gallons of homemade alcohol.
Galindo was stabbed more than 130 times but died of smoke inhalation after he had retreated to his cell.
Ramos’ first trial ended in a mistrial in 2018 after three weeks. Johnson ruled that a Nebraska State Patrol investigator had violated a court order banning witnesses called to testify from talking about the case with each other after the trial began. An investigator had inquired with prison officials about a missing video surveillance tape showing the attack on Galindo.
July 21, Ramos’ attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to drop the charges against their client due to the speedy trial issue.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case.