Crime, Fire + Courts

Defendants admit to assault on Sikh taxi driver

By March 8, 2011

Two men made plea agreements Monday in connection with a Nov. 28 attack on a Sikh taxi driver that Yolo County prosecutors charged as a hate crime.

Pedro Ramirez, 42, of Natomas, pleaded no contest to a felony assault charge and admitted that the incident was hate crime that caused great bodily injury to the victim, District Attorney Jeff Reisig said in a news release.

Johnny Morales Jr., 33, of West Sacramento, who authorities say had a lesser role in the incident, pleaded no contest to a felony assault, Reisig said.

Both men, who had been scheduled to stand trial this week, will be sentenced on April 1 by Yolo Superior Court Judge Timothy Fall. Ramirez is expected to receive a 13-year prison sentence, while Morales will be placed on felony probation and serve up to a year in county jail.

Prosecutors say Ramirez and Morales assaulted the cab driver, Harbhajan Singh, as he drove the two men and their wives home from a Sacramento nightclub.

“Mr. Singh was wearing a traditional Sikh turban and beard,” Reisig said in the news release. “During the cab drive, Ramirez shouted racial epithets and accused Mr. Singh of being Muslim. Ramirez punched Mr. Singh in the face approximately 10 times while Morales punched him from behind.”

Reisig said it was Ramirez’s wife to stopped the attack by throwing herself between her husband and Singh, who suffered multiple lacerations, a spinal fracture and facial bone fracture during the incident. Singh fled in his cab, but a bloody fingerprint inside the vehicle later led investigators to Ramirez, he said.

Enterprise staff

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