March 8, 2013

Judge to rapist: ‘You lost your humanity’

Judge John Torrence sentenced Ramone D. Winters to two consecutive life terms. Prosecutors had asked that he be locked up forever.

A Jackson County judge questioned a rape defendant’s “humanity” on Friday before sentencing him to two consecutive life terms, one of which must be served without possibility of parole.

Judge John Torrence said evidence in the case demonstrated that he had no choice but to send Ramone D. Winters of Kansas City to prison for the rest of his life.

A jury in January convicted Winters, 31, of 11 counts of rape, sodomy, burglary and kidnapping for assaulting a 71-year-old woman in December 2011.

“It’s apparent to me that somehow, somewhere along the line, Mr. Winters, you lost your humanity,” Torrence said.

“Right,” Winters replied, nodding.

“I don’t know what it is, but it’s not human. It’s clear you can’t be out here.”

Earlier, Winters had insisted that he did not assault the victim, who appeared in court but chose not to testify.

“I’ll say this, I don’t know the victim,” Winters said. “I don’t know what to say. You know what I mean? I hope my appeals come through.”

Assistant Jackson County prosecutor Trisha Lacey asked Torrence to lock up Winters forever.

“The defendant has shown repeatedly that he is a threat to any woman who crosses his path,” Lacey said.

After his conviction, Winters made inappropriate sexual comments to the woman assigned to write his sentencing assessment report, Lacey said.

Since June, Winters has masturbated in front of four female detention officers and medical staff and made lewd comments to five other women jail staffers. And during a recent prison stay, Winters declined to participate in a sex offender treatment program, Lacey said.

“It is imperative that he never again see the light of day,” Lacey said.

Defense lawyer Molly Hastings said that because of her client’s prior convictions, life sentences were a foregone conclusion. Still, she said Winters always has been “appropriate and respectful” with her in the year she has represented him. Hastings said she would not hesitate to represent him again.

Most recently, Winters was convicted in 2007 for the September 2000 rape of a 77-year-old woman in her Gladstone Boulevard home. He accepted a plea bargain and a five-year sentence, a deal that prosecutors offered only after the victim died of natural causes before the case could go to trial.

In the 2011 case, prosecutors argued that Winters surprised his victim about 7:30 p.m. in her kitchen. The woman reported that she saw a man, dressed all in black, and asked him how he had entered her 10th Street home.

“Never mind that,” Winters allegedly responded. “Do as you are told and I won’t hurt you.”

The woman reported that the sexual assault lasted about three hours, and she alleged that Winters took photos of her with his cellphone camera.

Winters also threatened her, saying he might return.

“I’ll kill you if I see the police in front of your house,” Winters said.

Afterward, he demanded money, the victim’s bank card and a gun. He left after the woman said she had none of those things and promised to keep quiet about the assaults.

The woman called police, however, providing them with a detailed description of her assailant. DNA recovered during a sexual assault examination matched Winters’ genetic profile to a certainty of one in a trillion unrelated individuals.

His DNA already was on file because of previous burglary and assault convictions.

After hearing the sentence, Winters insisted that he had spent a lot of time in prison for crimes he did not commit. He insisted that his DNA had been collected illegally and used against him improperly.

And he wondered whether Torrence knew what kind of person he really was.

“You really think I lost my humanity, or are you just going off (this) case?” Winters asked.

Torrence declined to elaborate.

“I said what I think,” the judge replied.

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