Twenty-seven-year-old Francisco Ramirez was sentenced early Wednesday, in a child abuse case that left a two-year-old girl permanently disabled. He was originally charged with attempted murder, but later pleaded no-contest to a reduced charge of attempted manslaughter. He has two prior first degree burglary convictions, as well as two second-degree assault convictions and other minor charges. He was ordered to serve at least 13 years and 4 months of the 20 year term before being eligible for parole.
Ramirez was living with the victim, Shari Rodriguez (then 2-years-old) and her mother, along with the couples infant son at a homeless resource center apartment, in Lahaina, Hawaii at the time of the incident. On the morning of March 15, 2006, the unconscious child was rushed by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center. Emergency surgery was performed on the girl, who had suffered a fractured skull, fractured ribs, and bleeding behind her right eye. Her small intestine was also severed from her stomach, and her pancreas had been cut in half. She was hospitalized for two months.
According to police, Ramirez admitted punching the girl in the abdomen after she gave him a “disrespectful” look. The family was under the supervision of child protective services at the time of the incident. However, they said that no allegations of abuse surfaced during that time, and they had been one month away from ending its supervision of the family.
The child was later adopted by her grandmother, Cheryl Oelrich. Now almost four-years-old, little Shari suffered brain damage from the incident and has a non-functioning spleen. She has a seizure disorder, and partial paralysis of her right hand. She must take two to four doses of medication daily, and sees a neurologist regularly. Her doctors consider her a medical miracle.
This was not the first time Shari had been abused. According to medical reports, two of the child’s ribs were found to be in a healing stage when she was hospitalized for the other beating. Though she doesn’t remember what happened that day, her grandmother says she describes other episodes of abuse, including being kicked in the stomach and taped at her mouth, head, and nose. She also states that Ramirez had once threatened to cut off her fingers with a knife. “I cannot answer the one question she always asks – (which is) ‘Why did he hurt me?'” said Oelrich, whose son is Shari’s biological father. Ramirez apologized to the family in court, and stated that he loved Shari and had not intended to cause her such harm.