RAWLINS – A Nebraska man is denying his suspected involvement in the disposal of a dead body.
Jose Antonio Ramos, 19, Omaha, Nebraska, pleaded not guilty on Monday in Carbon County District Court to one felony count of concealing a felony as well as one felony count of conspiracy to conceal a felony.
He faces up to 20 years in prison as well as up to $20,000 in court-related fees.
Marcos Estaban Garza-Calderon, 17, Omaha, Nebraska, who is being charged as an adult district court confirms, faces identical charges and pending penalties. His arraignment, however, which was scheduled Tuesday, has been rescheduled for next Wednesday.
Ramos and Garza-Calderon were apprehended by Utah authorities on May 11 after they had allegedly left a deceased Omaha juvenile in a parked car in rural Carbon County, according to the Carbon County Sheriff's Office.
Early that morning, the 16-year-old male's body, which was shot dead, was discovered by the Wyoming Highway Patrol, according to court records. Investigators did not find a weapon on scene.
An on-scene investigation revealed traces of blood on the victim's shoes as well as inside the car, court records read. Smeared blood as well as fingerprints of a dark substance were also discovered on the exterior of the vehicle.
Upon further investigation, it was determined that the body showed lividity, which means it's possible it was moved from its original location, court records read.
A subsequent autopsy revealed a shotgun shell in the victim's lung, court records read.
During an interview with investigators later that day in Salt Lake City, Garza-Calderon denied being "part of any vehicle" and that he "didn't know what the agents were talking about" regarding an active homicide investigation, court records read. He also said he got to Utah by receiving several rides.
When shown a picture of the victim, Garza-Calderon expressed "little no emotional response" but said "he was my homie," court records read.
Later in the interview, Garza-Calderon was confronted about a blue bandana which was found on scene. In response, he said "he didn't know" if he was a member of Surenos, a gang syndicate loosely affiliated with the Mexican Mafia. And asked if either he or Ramos shot the victim, Garza-Calderon said "I don't know sir."
Garza-Calderon was also confronted about his girlfriend back in Omaha. On May 10, court records read, his girlfriend told the Omaha Police Department that he had pointed a sawed-off shotgun at her. She also told the OPD that she met up with Garza-Calderon and Ramos that day at an Omaha drug store. There, she said, Ramos told her that Garza-Calderon shot the victim in the chest.
Before the interview concluded, an investigator observed traces of dry blood on Garza-Calderon's shoes, which were subsequently confiscated, court records read. Blood samples taken from Garza-Calderon's shoes, as well as a pair of khakis he was wearing under his jeans, indicated presumptive positive for human blood. Forensics testing also revealed gunshot residue on Garza-Calderon's right hand.
Ramos, who was as well interviewed by investigators that day, also had gunshot residue discovered on his hands, court records read. He told investigators that he was on his way to California from Nebraska to visit his mother, and that he was driving along Interstate 80 in a white 2005 Toyota Corolla, the same car in which the body was discovered.
He said he was at the time traveling with Garza-Calderon and the victim.
When asked why he was being interviewed, Ramos told investigators "something happened. Something's in the car that shouldn't be."
Ramos also stated, "It hurts a lot. I know what I did," court records read.
Asked specifics about the alleged homicide, Ramos said he didn't remember because he was "so high."
The court has 180 days to set trial.