RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A family is fighting to a keep a convicted killer behind bars after the man's life sentence without parole was reduced.
Joaquin Jack Ramos was convicted for killing 27-year-old Debbie Jo Martines, who was pregnant, in February, 1994 in Rapid Valley. Despite the life sentence without parole, Ramos was granted a commutation in 2010 by then-Governor Mike Rounds, allowing Ramos to appeal for parole every eight months.
"We went to the governor's office and he granted us a meeting and we went to that meeting and then were told that the commutation had already been granted and there was nothing he could do about it," said Angela Hanson. Hanson is Ramos' ex-wife and has spent her life accumulating documents and compelling evidence to support keeping Ramos behind bars.
"He could not reverse his decision. We were all devastated and there is nothing that can be done now to reverse that decision," Hanson said.
Rounds has since written a letter, asking the parole board to deny Ramos parole, but the damage can't be undone
On Wednesday, the victims parents, sister, and Hanson will come face to face with Ramos at a parole hearing and argue against his plea for parole.
"You can't, in all your life, imagine losing a child and having to, every eight months, go back and relive it over and over," said Martines' mother, Carol Wendt.
This will be the fourth time Ramos has applied for parole. Family and friends of Martines attended similar hearing in 2013, 2014, and 2016.
Ramos can continue to apply for parole every eight months or every month there after. That means, Martines' family will have to call on the 15th of every month to find out if he has applied for parole.
"It's like we have to relive that night ever, single time," said Martines' sister, Dottie Bender.
The family asks anyone wanting to support their fight can send a letter of support to the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles.