The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has dismissed the murder charge against Julio Cesar Alonso, who was accused of killing his girlfriend Paulina Ramirez in her Nipomo home on May 31.
Alonso, 24, was suspected of stabbing 24-year-old Ramirez to death at about 3 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in the Nipomo home they shared with other adults in the 600 block of Pomeroy Road.
“Given the state of the evidence we have now, we can’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” spokesman Lee Cunningham said Wednesday in explaining the decision.
The case, which was the county’s first homicide of the year, drew extra attention when Immigration Customs Enforcement officials confirmed that Alonso had been deported to Mexico from the United States in August 2016.
He discussed that deportation with The Desert Sun in an article published Aug. 10, 2016.
According to article, Alonso had lived in the U.S. for 16 years, growing up in Santa Maria, where he spent his teen years “in and out of juvenile centers.” Before being sent to an immigration detention center and eventually deported last year, he had spent two years in prison on a parole violation.
Last month, ICE officials said they had no record of Alonso’s presence in the United States between the time he was deported and his arrest in connection with Ramirez’s killing, meaning sometime after August, he illegally crossed the border and made his way back to the Central Coast.
He was formally charged with murder on June 7 and pleaded not guilty.
The San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the case and made the arrest, released a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“This afternoon, Julio Caesar Alonso was processed for release from our custody and turned over to ICE, where he was taken into federal custody pending charges,” spokesman Tony Cipolla wrote. “The Sheriff’s Office respects the criminal justice system and the decision made by the District Attorney’s Office. We will continue to examine evidence in this case and talk to witnesses, however, we must be able to prove the facts in this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Cunningham, who was the deputy district attorney handling the case, said the decision to dismiss was finalized Wednesday. He called it a team decision, but said “since it’s my case, the district attorney (Dan Dow) and I talked about it and together we made the decision.”
Cunningham said releasing Alonso is “the right thing to do at this point in time,” but that Alonso remains a person of interest in the investigation.
Asked whether he personally believes Alonso killed Ramirez, Cunningham said, “I can’t speculate on that.”
Both Cunningham and Cipolla said their offices had spoken with Ramirez’s family about dismissing the charge.
Alonso’s attorney, Brian Buckley, was not available for comment.