Ruben Ramirez


Closing arguments started Monday in the trial of a former Guadalupe police officer charged with domestic violence after allegedly hitting his wife during a heated argument about the couple's separation and impending divorce.

Ruben Steven Ramirez, 33, was arrested July 10 after allegedly punching his wife once in the face, causing her to briefly black out, after the two argued that evening in Santa Maria. Ramirez and his wife have been separated since February.

"This is a case about a man beating his wife," prosecutor Wynn Tran told a jury of eight men and four women in his closing arguments. "This is a case about a man punching his wife ... punching her so hard she lost consciousness for a brief moment."

Ramirez has been charged with one misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a spouse for the July incident, as well as battery and assault. 

Since the alleged incident, Ramirez has attempted to shift blame for the injury his wife sustained -- a large bump on her forehead -- to her, with his lawyer, Adrian Galvan, arguing throughout the trial that his client was attempting to defend himself on the night in question.

Ramirez told police on the night of the incident his wife attacked him, slapping him repeatedly and kneeing him in the groin, and that he was defending himself when he used an open palm that he placed on her head to push her away from him. 

Chuck Rylant, a former Santa Maria Police officer and expert witness for the defense, testified Monday that Ramirez used an appropriate amount of force if the woman was attacking him.

"It would be a reasonable use of force to disrupt that person," Rylant said. "You have to look at the likely injury based on the force you use. The sex (of the person) doesn't determine whether the use of force is appropriate."

Ramirez is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. His wife, who has only been identified as Jan Doe in court because she is the alleged victim of domestic violence, is 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 140 pounds.

Tran also told jurors Ramirez knew exactly what he was doing when he allegedly punched his wife and did so because he was angry and frustrated with her. According to trial testimony, Ramirez didn't want a divorce.

"He'd have you believe she was the one placing him in bodily harm and punching her was justified," Tran said. "He'd have you believe she randomly turned around and attacked him in a flurry of limbs."

On the night Ramirez allegedly punched Doe, she and the couple's three children spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening at a friend's home in Santa Maria.

Ramirez came to the residence after he got off work that evening to pick up their toddler-aged son and then returned the child a short time later, which is when the alleged altercation took place.

The couple started to argue, which the neighbors across the street heard, as well as what they both described as "skin-on-skin contact." Doe denied hitting her husband during the altercation but told police she pushed him once when he allegedly grabbed her arm.

"A push, a slap, doesn't entitle you to punch someone," Tran told the jury. "That night he decided to use force. He wasn't defending himself. He wasn't in fear. He did it because he could. He did it because he was frustrated and angry."

Ramirez and his wife met during their junior year at Santa Maria High School and began dating during their senior year. They married in 2005 and have three children together, ages 10, 6 and 2.

Closing arguments in the trial continued Tuesday morning.

Chief Gary Hoving, director of public safety at the Guadalupe Police Department, said last week that Ramirez is no longer an employee of the city.

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April Charlton writes for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow her on Twitter@WordsDawn