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Man Gets 13 Years in Hate Crime of Sikh Cabby

By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Saturday, June 04, 2011 | 12:11 pm

Pedro Martinez was sentenced in a California court yesterday to 13 years in prison for his part in the November 2010 hate crime and assault of Harbhajan Singh, a Sikh cab driver.

Photo Source: West Sacramento PD

Pedro Antonio Ramirez was sentenced in a California court yesterday to 13 years in prison for his part in the November 2010 hate crime and assault of Harbhajan Singh, a Sikh cab driver.

Although Ramirez originally made a plea agreement to avoid trial for attempted murder, he changed his mind and asked the court on April 1 to withdraw his plea. His accomplice, Johnny Morales, who also pleaded guilty on March 7, was sentenced on April 1 to 238 days in jail, in addition to the time he had already spent since his arrest.

Judge Timothy Fall determined that Ramirez had been properly informed of the meaning of the plea and that he had been represented effectively by counsel, Shergill said. He was sentenced on June 3 in the Yolo County Superior Court.

During the sentencing hearing, a statement was read on behalf of the family by Aman Kaur, a family friend: "Today is not a happy days for us. We wish that none of this had happened. (Harbhajan) Singh wears the turban as an article of faith and this attack will not stop him from wearing it. He wants people to know that Sikhs are just like everyone else. He forgives his attackers and hopes that they find peace along with the rest of the community."

According to the West Sacramento Police Department report, on Nov. 28, 2010, at approximately 1:50 a.m., police responded to 685 Lighthouse Drive, regarding an abandoned 911 call. Upon arrival, officers found Harbhajan Singh, victim of an assault.

He had picked up the two accused and their wives in Sacramento and had driven them to West Sacramento when the men began assaulting him and demanded money.

But even after he handed them the money, Ramirez and Morales kept beating him while shouting explicatives and calling him Muslim and Osama bin Laden, said Jasjit Singh, associate director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, in a previous interview.

The attack left Harbhajan Singh with facial fractures, multiple facial lacerations requiring stitches, eye injuries and bruising along his rib cage, said Amar Shergill, Harbhajan Singh’s attorney, in last night’s news release. It was only through intervention by Ramirez’s wife, who also was in the cab, that Harbhajan Singh was able to escape the attack.

In court, Ramirez and his family denied that this was a hate crime. But evidence showed that throughout the attack Ramirez repeatedly threatened to kill Harbhajan Singh while using racial epithets.

"It is difficult to take any solace in the sentence given the hardship to be endured by the family of Mr. Ramirez during his long sentence,” Shergill said. “If one lesson has been learned from this case, we hope that people realize that Sikhs have no relationship whatsoever with the enemies of the United States."



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