A 49-year-old Palmdale man who was convicted of the murders of 10 people, including two pregnant women who died nearly three decades ago in an arson fire at an apartment building in Los Angeles, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Ramiro Alberto Valerio — whom prosecutors contended was a gang leader who went by the name of “Greedy” — was found guilty last year of 10 counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree murder of a human fetus in connection with the May 3, 1993, blaze at a 69-unit complex in the Westlake area of Los Angeles. The sentencing took place on Jan. 6.
Jurors also found true the special-circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder during arson of an inhabited structure, along with aggravating factors including one alleging that the victims were particularly vulnerable.
“In my heart, God knows I’m innocent,” Valerio said, shortly before being sentenced in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom. Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila said Valerio was involved in the planning of the fire, but remained outside the apartment building to act as a lookout.
The prosecutor told jurors during the trial that Valerio didn’t have to be the one who went in and lit the match. The man suspected of starting the fire inside the apartment building is suspected of being in Mexico and is still being sought by authorities. Two other people have been released from jail after being sentenced to time already served behind bars in connection with the case.
Authorities said in 2017 that they believed the fire was set in retaliation for a building manager’s efforts to crack down on drug-dealing at the apartment complex. Those who died as a result of smoke inhalation from the fire were: Olga Leon, 24, and Rosalia Ruiz, 21, who were both pregnant; 1-year-old Lancy Mateo, 3-year-old Jose Camargo, 4-year-old Jesus Camargo, 6-year-old William Verdugo, 7-year-old Rosia Camargo, 8-year-old Yadira Verdugo, 10-year-old Leyver Verdugo and 29-year-old Alejandrina Roblero.
The blaze left more than 40 others injured and more than 100 residents displaced.
Valerio has remained behind bars since his February 2017 arrest by detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division.