By Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
August 19, 2014
LAS VEGAS – A 24-year-old Filipino, Ralph Macky Simon Jeremias, could lose his life if prosecutors are successful in seeking the death penalty against him.
Jeremias is due back in court on October to face the grand jury on charges that include conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary, and first-degree murder with a deadly weapon.
On June 8, 2009, Paul Stephens and Brian Hudson were found shot to death in an apartment complex by a friend.
According to the police report, both victims were selling large quantities of marijuana and were keeping large amounts of cash inside their apartment.
A parent of one of the victims reported fraudulent transactions using his credit card.
Detectives were advised that purchases were made at gas stations, bars, and casinos – and cash withdrawals were even attempted.
Based on surveillance videos, investigators learned and verified the identity of those who used the credit card – Jeremias was one of those suspected.
Ivan Rios and Carlos Zapata were identified as the other suspects.
Jeremias reportedly admitted to buying drugs from one of the victims. He claimed that he found the door to one of the victim’s apartments unlocked and found both Stephen and Hudson on the floor. He then took a large amount of marijuana from one of the kitchen cabinets and stole their wallets and credit cards.
But Zapata, the other suspect, says Jeremias not only stole from the victims, but actually brought a gun in the apartment and shot them both.
Carlos Zapata pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree murder. He also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, in connection with the deaths of Paul Stephens and Brian Hudson.
In 2012, a jury acquitted Rios, who faced two counts of murder and other charges.
But when it comes to Jeremias, Fil-Am criminal defense expert, Cesar Alase, says the jury will look at the circumstances surrounding the case. They will also look at Jeremias’ background – his upbringing, history with crime – in determining whether he should be given the death penalty or not.
“It’s up to the jury to decide whether the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors,” said Almase. “As a defense attorney, the defense would try to do is show him to be more sympathetic person, and go into his life – and more than just this person who did this horrible crime – and make him more human and bring in more human elements to his story.”
Kababayans here say the family and the community need to watch out for warning signs when it comes to violent individuals.
“The first place you look at is the home,” said Rex Velasquez, a community leader, “Because if the home doesn’t recognize that one of their members has a problem like this, then the home doesn’t have the opportunity to fix the problem before it comes to this level.”
Jeremias has been held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center since he was arrested on June 24, 2009.