A local woman has been sentenced to life in prison after a jury found her guilty on all counts in the death of her mother.
On Tuesday, July 13, Amalia Elvira Ramirez, 56, was found guilty of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, exploitation of an elderly person and neglect of an elderly person in the death of her mother, Himilce Ramirez, who was 83.
“Generally, when somebody is murdered, there is family who cares, but there was no one,” said Forsyth County Chief Assistant District Attorney Sandy Partridge, who represented the state in the case. “It was an incredibly sad case, and I think, with our aging population, this may be something that we see more of. Elders like that are similar to children’s cases in that they’re the most vulnerable people. I think we had justice in the courtroom for the victim.”
In her closing statement’s, Partridge described the conditions of the home where the two lived – including candles being used to cover the smell, Himilce Ramirez being confined to a bed still covered in packing plastic and her being kept in a “very empty room” and said Himilce Ramirez, whose body was found with several open bed sores, was at the mercy of her daughter.
John Rife, the defense attorney who represented Amalia Ramirez, said on Wednesday that he and his client are weighing their next options.
“Well, we respect the jury’s verdict. We don’t agree with it, of course, but we do respect it,” Rife said. “We’ll be weighing our options over the next couple of days to appeal issues and other things that are proper and necessary in a case of this magnitude and go from there.”
In his closing statements, Rife argued Himilce Ramirez had previously declined medical treatments, there was not a proven cause of death and that Amalia Ramirez had taken care of her mother, including giving her food and water, rather than ignoring her.
According to the original indictment in the case, Amalia Ramirez was accused of “unreasonably confining” her mother and depriving her of services like “medical care for physical and mental health needs and assistance in personal hygiene.”
During the trial, jurors heard testimony from medical professionals, first-responders on the scene and those who knew the family, along with what Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley, who presided over the case, called “horrific photographs” of the home and Himilce Ramirez’s body.
The defendant did not speak during sentencing.
Amalia Ramirez was originally arrested by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office on alleged elder abuse charges after deputies responded to her mother’s home off Bridle Drive in Cumming on Dec. 6, 2018, investigating reports that a female had threatened suicide to a friend out of state.
Rainwater said that they quickly learned that the body was in the advanced stages of decomposition based on its condition and was likely there for days, if not weeks.
"As soon as we walked in, the stench of a dead person ... was so obvious in the home; we immediately went to where the smell was and found the body of the mother in bed," Rainwater told the Forsyth County News at the time of the arrest.
In 2019, Rainwater said that a then-recent autopsy completed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has determined that the woman died from "homicide by neglect" and detectives learned Amalia Ramirez had been living in the residence and was her mother's primary caretaker for the last four years.
Based on the conditions of the home and the body, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office secured warrants for Ramirez’s arrest, charging her with felony cruelty to a person 65 years or older and exploitation/intimidation of the disabled/elderly.
"We could tell, based on the body's sores, that this 83-year-old had not been taken care of," Rainwater said.