Jurors began deliberating the case of Kwang Choi Joy’s Wednesday afternoon, tasked with deciding if the former roommate of Army vet and Cal State Fullerton student Maribel Ramos is responsible for her death.
Prosecutors have argued Joy was in love with Ramos, and killed her out of desperation when he thought she was slipping away after she asked him to move out. Defense attorneys said Ramos was unstable and may have killed herself.
They said the only thing Joy did wrong was dispose of her body improperly, by allegedly leaving her in a remote canyon after discovering her dead in the apartment they shared.
While the jury ponders the case, at least one member of the victim’s family has already made up her mind.
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Lucy Gonzalez, Ramos’ sister, spoke out after closing arguments. She said there is no doubt in her mind the man who killed Ramos did so out of fear - the fear of losing his roommate because it became clear Ramos did not want him.
"He has nothing. She became his god long ago," Gonzalez said outside an Orange County courthouse.
Gonzalez sat in court each day of the trial, listening to all of the testimony.
In court, Joy’s defense attorney told jurors he may not be reliable, he may be strange, but he did not kill the 36-year-old Army veteran. He contends there were threats, but they came from Ramos in a phone call played in court in which she told Joy she had a gun and a machete.
"She never would have made that call if she wasn't at (her) wits end," said Gonzalez. "He probably threatened her."
Joy’s attorney argued that no one knows how Ramos died. Her decomposed body, found in Santiago Canyon, had no DNA tying anyone to the scene. The coroner ruled the death a homicide by unknown means.
During testimony, jurors also heard how police tried to get Joy to confess by calling Ramos unstable.
"I truly believe… she can be mean… she can be mean," Det. Joey Ramirez of the Orange Police Department was heard saying on a tape played in court.
Gonzalez said her sister did suffer PTSD, but even after two tours of duty remained smart and kind.
"I'm OK with not knowing. He's never going to tell me. I don't expect him to ever tell us what he did," she said.
If convicted, Joy is faces 3 years to life in prison.