Luis Ramirez claimed he was innocent until the very end...


‘I feel betrayed,’ Luis Ramirez told a journalist from his cell in the Ellis Unit of Huntsville Prison, Texas. ‘I have totally lost faith in what the law-enforcement and justice system represents…the idea that if you are innocent you have nothing to worry about, what is that?!’

A year later, that justice system turned down his last appeal.

He was strapped down, injected with sodium thepental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride and declared dead at 6.18pm on Thursday 20 October 2005.

Huntsville Prison in Texas (Photo: Rex Features)

Huntsville Prison in Texas (Photo: Rex Features)

Luis Ramirez died a murderer.

But when, on 8 April 1998, his victim had been shot twice, point blank in the head, and buried in a shallow grave in San Angelo, Texas, Luis Ramirez had been in Brady, Texas.

70 miles away.

His secretary had it written down in the office diary. An appointment for Luis Ramirez to evaluate a property in Brady.

Luis was an estate agent. He travelled around a lot. Always had. Even when he’d been married to Debbie.

It was Debbie’s boyfriend Luis Ramirez had been convicted of killing that day in April 1998. His name was Nemecio Nandin. He was 29.

Nemecio worked as a fireman. And to make a bit of extra cash for himself, he advertised his services as a washing-machine repairman.

But that April, he’d gone missing. Didn’t show up to work, didn’t get in touch with Debbie. Nothing. For three weeks.

A missing persons case was opened by Texas police, an appeal put out for information.

Soon, a lead. Police investigators had got a call from Tim Hoogstra. Tim was a drug addict and petty thief. He claimed to recognize the photos of Nemecio…because Luis Ramirez had offered him $1,000 to shoot him dead.

Tim might have needed the money. But he hadn’t wanted an innocent man’s blood on his hands.

He’d said no to Luis Ramirez. But now, he told police he’d heard someone had accepted Luis Ramirez’s offer. Edward Bell.

A small-time chicken farmer from the outskirts of San Angelo.

Immediately, the police raced to Bell’s property. Perhaps they hoped to find Nemecio Nandin alive.

Instead, they found him in a shallow grave next to a chicken coop. Two bullets in the back of his head.

Edward Bell was arrested. And in his wallet, the evidence that linked him to Luis Ramirez. Ramirez’s business card and a hand-drawn map showing where Nemecio Nandin lived.

There was no point in Edward Bell denying it. He’d murdered Nemecio, and he confessed as much to the police. Nemecio’s blood had been found all over an old pair of Edward’s jeans.

And when the police asked him why he’d done it, the answer was simple. Luis Ramirez had paid him to. $1,000.

So, Luis Ramirez was arrested, too. And in May 1999, the two men stood trial.

Edward Bell pleaded guilty to murder. He was sentenced to life in prison. Luiz Ramirez, however, denied the charges against him. Solicitation to murder. Why would he have wanted Debbie’s boyfriend dead?

Yes, Luis and Debbie had been married for years. But they’d divorced in 1995 and moved on with their lives.

Luis was happy Debbie had found love again. Or so he said.

But when Debbie herself was called to court as a witness, she told quite a different story.

She claimed that during their marriage, Luis had abused her. Physically, sexually. He’d been jealous and possessive. Even after she’d left him, he couldn’t leave her alone. He’d followed her, stalked her.

When she’d started dating other men, he hadn’t been able to cope with it. He’d slashed the tyres on the car of one man she’d been seeing, and he’d threatened one of her colleagues when he thought they’d been out for a drink.

Luis Ramirez couldn’t let Debbie go. And so he’d paid Edward Bell to murder her new boyfriend, Nemecio Nandin.

The plan was simple. Edward Bell would call Nemecio and tell him his washing-machine was on the blink. He’d arrange for Nemecio to come over and mend it.

While Nemecio was bending over the pipes, belt drive and hose connectors in Edward’s ‘broken’ washing machine, Luis Ramirez would be 70 miles away at an appointment.

Photo posed by a model

Photo posed by a model (Photo: iStockphoto)

And when Edward Bell was firing the shots into the back of Nemecio’s head, maybe Luis Ramirez would be congratulating himself on having come up with the perfect murder.

Except, it hadn’t been the perfect murder. The cool, calculating Ramirez had been linked to the crime.

And now, inside a Texas courtroom, he was fighting to maintain his innocence.

‘I didn’t do this,’ he said. ‘I have no idea who did. I don’t even have a parking ticket on my record.’

The jury didn’t believe him. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

But right up until his end, Luis Ramirez denied involvement in the brutal crime.

With his last words before being executed in Huntsville Prison, Texas, Luis addressed the family of Nemecio Nandin.

‘I did not kill your loved one,’ he said. ‘I wish I could give you some kind of solace. You lost someone you love very much, the same as my family and friends are going to lose in a few minutes. I am sure he died unjustly, just like I am. I did not murder him.’

Minutes later, Luis Ramirez was dead. He’d claimed the law-enforcement system had let him down. But it had got justice for Nemecio Nandin.