TECUMSEH, Neb. — Attorneys will present opening arguments Monday in the first-degree murder trial of prison inmate Eric Ramos, the first of what are anticipated to be several trials in two vicious slayings during a 2017 prison riot.
Ramos is the only person charged so far in the death of one of the inmates, Michael Galindo. He was stabbed 130 times and left to die in a smoke-filled cell after inmates took over a housing unit at the Tecumseh State Prison on March 2, 2017.
It took 3½ hours for riot teams to regain control over the housing unit. Another inmate, Damon Fitzgerald, was found dead following the 2017 riot.
Two other inmates were killed during an earlier riot at Tecumseh, on Mother’s Day in 2015.
No criminal charges have been filed in those slayings, but the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, in recent court filings, asked that surveillance videotape of the killing of Galindo be withheld from the media for fear that it would prejudice “subsequent prosecutions of other inmates involved.”
Johnson County District Judge Vicky Johnson ruled Thursday that news media will be allowed to view the videotape but cannot broadcast images of the two slayings in the 2017 riot.
Ramos, 27, was serving time for domestic assault and being a felon in possession of a handgun. He is being tried for first-degree murder, use of a weapon to commit a felony and tampering with evidence.
Two hundred potential jurors were called in the rural county to hear the case. Dozens were excused over 3½ days of hearings last week because they either worked at the prison, knew someone who did or had responded to the fire and injuries associated with the riot.
The two outbreaks at the Tecumseh prison prompted officials to create a special housing unit for high-risk inmates, with special restrictions.
Ramos’ family has filed a suit in federal court, alleging that the state knew the Tecumseh facility was unsafe and understaffed but failed to make changes. The lawsuit claims that prison staffers abandoned their posts during the riot and watched on video as Galindo was killed.