Jury finds man guilty in armed robbery trial

A jury on Wednesday found a Marshalltown man guilty of robbing an 88-year-old Garwin woman at gunpoint outside of the Marshall Town Center last fall.

Following four hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Andrew Ramirez, 23, of first-degree robbery and going armed with intent, both felony charges. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

Ramirez, and two others, were arrested after the Sept. 25, 2013 incident in which Mary Etta Fisher reported being robbed of her purse outside of the Marshalltown mall.

Fisher testified Tuesday that a gun was pointed at her chest as she was robbed. Police later determined the weapon was a BB gun modeled to look like a handgun. However a weapon’s expert with the Marshalltown Police Department testified that particular BB gun could cause serious or fatal injury.

Ramirez took the stand in his defense Wednesday morning claiming he was not at the Marshalltown mall that day and denied any involvement in the armed robbery.

Further, Ramirez denied knowing how Fisher’s purse, the gun and two blue hooded sweatshirts believed to belong to the suspects ended up in the basement of his home.

Jose Morales, an 18-year-old Marshalltown man charged in the case, brought a blue sweatshirt to Ramirez’s home the day of the crime, Ramirez said.

Marshall County Attorney Jennifer Miller linked one of two sweatshirts police found back to Ramirez because it featured an NFL team Dallas Cowboys star on it. Ramirez has a tattoo of that star on one of his shoulders. However, Ramirez denied it was his sweatshirt and said Morales was also a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Ramirez did admit he knew his wife, Frances Gasca, was using stolen credit cards.

Gasca pleaded guilty to forgery and was sentenced in January to two years of supervised probation and was ordered to pay victim restitution.

Morales pleaded guilty to accessory to robbery, an aggravated misdemeanor, just before a joint trial with Ramirez was set to begin. A sentencing hearing has not been set in that case.

Evidence supported that following the robbery, the three went to Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines where Gasca used the victim’s credit cards to make purchases.

Gasca and Ramirez were arrested the day after the robbery when an officer spotted them dropping off their children at school.

A search of their vehicle and home turned up the victim’s belongings, items purchased with the victim’s credit cards, along with the weapon and other evidence.

Morales was initially held as a material witness in the case, more than a month after the robbery he was arrested and charged.

Ramirez’s sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. First-degree robbery is a Class B felony punishable up to 25 years in prison. Going armed with intent is a Class D felony punishable up to five years in prison. Another charge, control of a firearm by a felon, was dropped before the trial.

“I’m pleased with the verdict and thank the jury for their service,” Miller said.