Professor Charged With Alleged Rapist's Revenge Killing Taken Into Custody

A professor who is accused of participating in the murder of her alleged rapist nearly two decades ago was taken into custody today after she declined a plea deal that would send her to prison for three years.
By ALYSSA NEWCOMB

A professor who is accused of participating in the murder of her alleged rapist nearly two decades ago was taken into custody today after she declined a plea deal that would send her to prison for three years.

Norma Patricia Esparza, 39, who is a professor at Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland, was handcuffed today after an appearance in Orange County Superior Court.

Three other people, including Esparza's former lover, face charges in the 1995 killing of Gonzalo Ramirez, 24, who prosecutors allege was hacked to death with a meat cleaver and left on the side of the road. A fourth suspect is deceased.

Esparza will now await trial on one felony count of special circumstance murder during the commission of kidnapping, a charge that could send her to prison for the rest of her life.

"This is an incredible injustice," Esparza's husband, Jorge Mancillas, told reporters outside of court after the hearing, according to the Associated Press. "She knew they were asking her bail to be revoked and yet she came."

Prosecutors had offered the psychology professor a deal that would require her to plead guilty to manslaughter and serve three years in prison for the stabbing death of her alleged rapist, Susan Schroeder, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney's Office, told ABCNews.com.

Esparza said at a news conference on Wednesday that it would be a "lie" if she accepted the deal.

"The principle of what they're asking me is to plead guilty to something that they know I am not responsible for," she said.

Esparza was arrested in the cold case when she re-entered the United States last year for an academic conference.

On the night of April 15, 1995, prosecutors allege Esparza, who was then 20 years old, went to a bar with a group of friends and pointed out Ramirez, who she said had raped her earlier that spring in her dormitory at Pomona College.

When Ramirez left the bar early the next morning, prosecutors allege Esparza, along with an ex-boyfriend and two friends, intentionally rear-ended Ramirez' vehicle and kidnapped him.

Ramirez was driven to an automotive shop where his alleged captors were met by two more friends, according to prosecutors. Hours later, prosecutors said Ramirez' body was found dumped on the side of Sand Canyon Road in Santa Ana.

Through it all, Esparza said she wasn't a willing participant and was instead kidnapped and forced to watch.

"All I knew is that these people were dangerous," she said, "And I just needed to stay quiet."
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