4:36 PM: San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris said today her office will not seek the death penalty against accused triple murderer Edwin Ramos, saying prosecutors have thoroughly reviewed the case and decided to pursue life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Ramos, 22, of El Sobrante, an alleged member of the MS-13 gang, is accused of fatally shooting Tony Bologna, 48, and two of his sons, Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, on June 22, 2008 in the Excelsior District.

The shooting occurred as the family was returning home from a Sunday picnic in Fairfield. Police and prosecutors have said they were likely mistaken for rival gang members.

“We will not seek the death penalty in this case,” lead prosecutor Harry Dorfman said at a hearing for Ramos early this afternoon in San Francisco Superior Court.

Harris said after the hearing that her office, however, plans on “making sure that Edwin Ramos dies in prison for these horrific crimes.”

Harris met with Tony Bologna’s wife Danielle on Wednesday and informed her of the decision.

Matthew Davis, an attorney for the Bologna family, said today that Danielle Bologna “had urged (Harris) to seek the death penalty and is very disappointed that she’s not, but she appreciates at least that Ms. Harris explained her decision in a face-to-face meeting.”

Harris acknowledged to reporters today that the killings were “devastating” to the Bologna family and to the community.

“Let me just say that the amount of pain that this family has suffered is something that none of us will hopefully ever experience, and most of us will never understand,” Harris said.

Ramos faces three counts of murder for the killings, and one count of attempted murder for another Bologna son in the car who was not hit and survived.

He is also charged with three special-circumstance allegations of murder in furtherance of a gang, shooting from a vehicle, and multiple murders. Those allegations, if proven true, could have made him eligible for the death penalty.

“As you can imagine, the defense is real pleased with the prosecutors’ decision today,” Gayle Gutekunst, one of Ramos’ attorneys said today.

She added that the defense is planning to file a motion challenging the charges against Ramos.

Harris today would not discuss any specific factor or factors that led to the decision.

“We reviewed this case over many, many months,” Harris said.

“We have thoroughly reviewed the facts and the evidence and the law in this case, and arrived at a decision based on that review,” she said.

She declined to elaborate, citing concerns about damaging the prosecution.

Harris, 44, a Democrat, is running for attorney general of California. She pledged during her campaign for district attorney in 2003 that she would not seek capital punishment.

Her campaign manager, Brian Brokaw, said last week, “While she’s personally opposed to the death penalty, as attorney general, she’ll uphold all the laws of California.”

Harris was criticized in 2004 for announcing days after the killing of 29-year-old San Francisco police Officer Isaac Espinoza by a gang member that she would not seek the death penalty in the case.

Among the vocal critics of that decision were U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and then-police Chief Heather Fong.

Harris’ office has since changed the way it reviews potential death penalty cases.

The office now has a four-person committee, made up of Harris’ chief assistant, the head of the criminal division, the head of the homicide unit, and the attorney prosecuting the case, that consider factors in support of and against the death penalty in each case. They then make a recommendation to Harris.

The Ramos case has received widespread attention, both because of the egregious nature of the crime, and because Ramos had reportedly been in the country illegally at the time. He has a federal immigration hold on him now, as he remains in custody.

The Bologna family has sued the city of San Francisco, saying its sanctuary policy protected Ramos from deportation when he was arrested as a juvenile. Last year the city changed the policy and began reporting juvenile offenders to immigration authorities.

According to police and prosecutors, on the day of the Bologna killings, Ramos’ MS-13 faction had been looking to retaliate against the Norteno gang for the shooting of another MS-13 gang member earlier that day.

Bologna and his sons encountered a Chrysler 300 allegedly driven by Ramos at a stop sign in the 200 block of Congdon Street.

The surviving son testified at Ramos’ preliminary hearing earlier this year that Ramos’ car at first blocked their path and then pulled alongside their car. He said he saw Ramos glare menacingly at his father before firing several shots into their car.

Ramos has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. He told police another alleged gang member had been in his car at the time and fired the shots.

“We will seek justice in court for the crimes,” Dorfman said today, adding that he was confident his office would be able to prove Ramos guilty of the murders.

Ramos is scheduled to return to court Oct. 1 to set a trial date.

12:42 PM: An attorney for the family of three people killed in a shooting in San Francisco’s Excelsior District last year said today the family has been told by District Attorney Kamala Harris that she will not seek the death penalty in the case.

Attorney Matthew Davis said Harris met Wednesday with Danielle Bologna, the wife of Tony Bologna, 48, and the mother of 20-year-old Michael and 16-year-old Matthew Bologna, who were killed in the shooting on June 22, 2008.

The shooting occurred as the family was driving home from a Sunday picnic in Fairfield. Police and prosecutors have said the Bologna family was likely mistaken for rival gang members by the alleged shooter, Edwin Ramos, 22, of El Sobrante.

Ramos, an alleged member of the MS-13 gang, faces three counts of murder for the killings and one count of attempted murder, for another son who was not hit and survived.
Davis said Danielle Bologna had wanted Ramos to face the death penalty.

“My client had urged (Harris) to seek the death penalty and is very disappointed that she’s not, but she appreciates at least that Ms. Harris explained her decision in a face-to-face meeting,” Davis said.

Ramos is also charged with three special-circumstance allegations of murder in furtherance of a gang, shooting from a vehicle, and multiple murders.

Bologna and his sons were driving home from the picnic when they encountered a Chrysler 300 allegedly driven by Ramos at a stop sign in the 200 block of Congdon Street.

The surviving son testified at Ramos’ preliminary hearing earlier this year that Ramos’ car at first blocked their path and then pulled alongside their car. He said he saw Ramos glare menacingly at his father before firing several shots into their car.

Ramos, who has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, told police another alleged MS-13 member was in his car at the time of the killings and fired the shots.

Harris, 44, a Democrat, is now running for attorney general of California. She pledged during her campaign for district attorney in 2003 that she would not seek capital punishment.

That stance brought her fierce criticism in 2004 after she declared days after the killing of 29-year-old San Francisco police Officer Isaac Espinoza by a gang member that she would not seek the death penalty in the case.

Among the vocal critics of that decision were U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and then-police Chief Heather Fong.

Since the Espinoza killing, Harris’ office has changed the way it reviews potential death penalty cases.

The office now has a four-person committee, made up of Harris’ chief assistant, the head of the criminal division, the head of the homicide unit, and the attorney prosecuting the case, that consider factors in support of and against the death penalty in each case. They then make a recommendation to Harris.

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  • SB76

    This really makes me sick. Kamala Harris is protecting her career here and nothing more. Gang members thrive in prison, this bastard will have a whole little set up, wherever he goes I’m sure. Life in prison for killing a father and his two sons, leaving an entire family distraught and a community in fear? Is that fair? Is that anywhere near the definition of justice?

    To not persue the death penalty-especially in this case-sends a wrong message to those that intend to commit violent acts. Once again politics and not common sense, prevails. Those people that conduct heinous acts should be subject to the same treatment. I believe I am a very liberal person on most issues but this is ridiculous. I honestly believe that the liberal establishment in San Francisco has gone absolutely bonkers. First “sanctuary treatment” for violent offenders, and then a soft persuit of punishment towards a triple murderer, attempted murderer and a member of one of the most violent gangs on the western hemisphere. WHAT A JOKE.

    I love this city and I think its time to vote for more centrists in city hall. Politicians and public officers first concern should be to protect its constituents, clearly this is not the case in S.F. I am glad that Gavin Newsome’s career will be short lived and hopefully the same will eventually happen to Kammy.

    Harris should know damn well that most politicians go back on their word. So she ran on the premise that during her tenure in San Francisco she would not actively seek the death penalty. So what! Do the right thing here and possibly your career will be in tact, irregardless.