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Ramiro Felix GONZALES





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 15, 2001
Date of birth: November 5, 1982
Victim profile: Bridget Townsend (female, 18)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Medina County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on September 27, 2006

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas

opinion AP-75,540
TDCJ Number
Date of Birth
Gonzales, Ramiro 999513 11/05/1982
Date Received
Age (when Received)
Education Level
09/27/2006 23 7th Grade
Date of Offense
Age (at the Offense)
01/15/2001 18 Medina
Hair Color
Hispanic Male Black
Eye Color
5 ft 2 in 136 Brown
Native County
Native State
Prior Occupation
Frio Texas Welder, Fence Builder
Prior Prison Record

TDCJ#1259816 on a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault with deadly weapon from Bandera County.

Summary of incident

On January 15, 2001 in Medina County, Gonzales kidnapped an eighteen year old female, sexually assaulted and fatally shot her.

Race and Gender of Victim
White Female

Ramiro F. Gonzales v. The State of Texas

June 17, 2009

Statement of Facts

The appellant was charged with intentionally causing the death of Bridget Townsend by shooting her with a firearm during the course of committing or attempting to commit aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, or robbery.

The evidence at trial established that, while he was in the Bandera County jail waiting to be transported to prison on another matter, the appellant asked to speak with the sheriff, James MacMillian. When MacMillian met with him, the appellant stated that he had information concerning Townsend, a person who had been reported missing almost two years earlier.

Initially, MacMillian did not believe him, but when the appellant asserted that he could show MacMillian where Townsend's body was, MacMillian took him more seriously. With the appellant sitting in the passenger seat giving directions and the jail administrator riding in the back, MacMillian drove out of town to the ranch where the appellant and his family lived. After the paved road ended at the ranch headquarters, they continued driving over caliche roads and jeep trails to a remote cedar-covered hillside. They then walked another hundred yards to the location where the appellant indicated that they would find Townsend's remains.

As they walked, the appellant described the jewelry Townsend had been wearing, where she had been standing when he shot her, and where he had put her body. They saw a human skull about ten feet from the place the appellant said he had left her. They then observed other bones that had been scattered by wildlife, and they found jewelry that was similar to the jewelry described by the appellant. After MacMillian and the jail administrator tied yellow evidence tape on the trees to mark the location, they drove back to Bandera. MacMillian left markers along the route so that he would be able to retrace it.

The appellant volunteered two different stories during the drive back to the sheriff's office. Initially, he stated that some people in the Mexican Mafia had needed a place to dispose of a body, and so he let them use that location. Then, he stated that he was present while other people committed an offense, but all he did was show them how to get to that location. After they returned to the sheriff's office, the appellant gave additional conflicting stories.

A Texas Ranger, Skylor Hearn, testified that the appellant first told him that the appellant had been hired by the Mexican Mafia and Townsend's boyfriend, Joe Leal, to kill Townsend. Next, the appellant indicated that the Mexican Mafia was not involved, but that he and Leal had agreed that he would kill Townsend. Finally, he stated that Leal had not been involved, and that he had killed Townsend on his own. The appellant then admitted that his previous stories had been lies.

Hearn testified that the appellant provided details in his final story that were consistent with evidence that was discovered during the investigation. The appellant gave a statement that was audiotaped and typed. The appellant reviewed, revised, and signed the typed statement. At trial, Hearn read the typed statement out loud. The audiotape was played as well.

In his statement, the appellant related that Leal, Townsend's boyfriend, was his drug supplier. On or about January 14, 2001, he had telephoned Leal's house because he wanted more drugs. Townsend answered the phone and told him that Leal was at work. Then, aware that Townsend was there, he drove to Leal's house in order to steal cocaine. When Townsend answered the door, the appellant walked past her to the bedroom closet where he knew that Leal kept drugs, and he began searching. He found between $150 and $500 in cash on a closet shelf, and he put it in his pocket. He did not respond when Townsend asked him what he was doing. Townsend picked up the telephone and started dialing, telling him that she was calling Leal. The appellant pushed her down, dragged her into the bedroom, and tied her hands and feet with some nylon rope he had found in the closet. He asked her if Leal had any drugs, and she told him no. He then carried her to the front door, where he paused to turn out the lights so no one would see them, and then he carried her to his truck.

The appellant then drove Townsend to the ranch. When they arrived, the appellant stopped long enough to retrieve a high-powered .243-caliber deer rifle with a scope that he knew was kept in his grandfather's ranch truck. The appellant stated that, at the time he took the rifle, he intended to shoot Townsend because he did not want her to tell anyone that he had "torn up" Leal's house and kidnapped her. Armed with the rifle, he got back into his truck and drove Townsend to the location where her remains were later found. He untied Townsend and walked her toward the brush, but when he started loading the rifle, Townsend began crying and asking for her mother. She told the appellant that she would give him money, drugs, or sex if he would spare her life. In response, the appellant unloaded the rifle and took Townsend back to his truck, where he had sex with her. After she dressed, he reloaded the rifle, walked her back into the brush, and shot her. He listened as her body hit the ground, and then he drove home. When he got back to his grandparents' house, he removed the empty shell casing from the rifle and slung the casing away from the house. He put the rifle back into his grandfather's ranch truck and went inside. There, he interacted with his family as though nothing had happened.

While Hearn was taking the appellant's statement, MacMillian showed investigators the location of Townsend's remains. They found Townsend's skull, most of her long bones and some small bones, her clothing, her jewelry, and her shoes. Her rib cage and vertebrae were never found. Gunshot residue tests on Townsend's shirt revealed the presence of lead. Hearn later seized three high-powered rifles with scopes that he found in the appellant's grandfather's house and ranch truck. He showed them to the appellant, along with a rifle that Hearn had borrowed from the sheriff's department, and asked the appellant if he recognized any of them as the murder weapon. The appellant immediately selected the .243-caliber rifle that Hearn had seized from the ranch truck.

Leal testified about the course of events that led him to report Townsend's disappearance to police. He had spoken to Townsend on the telephone around 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m., and she told him that she had to get up early for work the next morning. When he came home from work a little after midnight, he believed that Townsend was asleep. Her truck was parked outside and things "looked normal." Inside, her purse and keys were on the counter as usual, but the house was cold because the heater had not been turned on. Townsend was not asleep on the couch where Leal had expected her to be, so he went into the bedroom. When he saw that she was not in the bed, he looked around and noticed that the door to the bedroom closet was open. A small box that he kept on a closet shelf was sitting out on the ironing board, open and empty. It had contained between $200 and $300 in cash. Leal testified that Townsend never took money from that box without asking him first. Becoming concerned, Leal began calling friends and family to see if anyone knew where Townsend was. His sister and his friend helped him search the neighborhood. When they could not find her, Leal called the police. He also contacted the appellant because Townsend had told him that the appellant had come by the house earlier that day, and Leal hoped that the appellant might have seen something while he was there. The appellant, however, denied that he had been there that day. When Leal told the appellant that he might as well tell the truth because Townsend had told him that he had come by, the appellant continued to deny it.



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