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Appeals court sends mass murderer back to county for sentencing

A teen convicted and sentenced to 80 years in prison for the 1993 murder of a family of four in Outlook will be back in Yakima County Superior Court for a new sentencing hearing.

That's the result of a state appeals court ruling this week on the sentence of Joel Rodriguez Ramos, who was 14 at the time he and another teen bludgeoned and killed the Skelton family in their Outlook home.

Ramos originally plead guilty and as part of the plea deal was sentenced to four 20-year terms to run consecutively for a total of 80 years.

The issue leading to this week's decision arose in 2011 when he appealed the length of his sentence. Ramos sought to have his sentence reduced to one 20-year, concurrent term for the four charges.

The appeal was denied in Yakima County Superior Court.

This week's court ruling, though, sends Ramos back to Yakima County for reconsideration of his appeal.

Specifically, the court decision this week found that Ramos' appeal for re-sentencing was denied without the Superior Court offering reasons why.

"The result is ambiguity and an inadequate record from which to determine whether and why the court exercised its discretion," says the state appeals court ruling issued April 16.

Further, this week's decision notes that the 2011 denial in Superior Court saw the court express reservations about its authority to re-sentence..."all based on objections raised by the State."

The April 16 ruling, in essence, requires Yakima County to go back to the drawing board in considering Ramos' appeal.

Ken Ramm is Yakima County's chief criminal deputy prosecutor and this morning, Thursday, told the Daily Sun News the county will comply.

"At this point we will bring him back for a full re-sentencing pursuant to the court's order," Ramm said.

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