Richard Harden was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison after being convicted of strangling his cellmate the day after he was arrested for assaulting a woman with a hammer at Home Depot, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office said Friday.
In 2009, Harden walked into the Home Depot on Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento and attacked a female employee. After his arrest, he was booked into the Sacramento County jail and placed in a cell with Evaristo Ramirez, a day laborer and Mexican national who was jailed the day before on suspicion of DUI.
The next day, Ramirez was found unresponsive in the cell when officers allegedly appeared 20 minutes after another inmate activated an emergency alert, according to a 2015 article in The Bee.
Harden, 53, was charged with the murder but case proceedings were halted when he was declared mentally incompetent, The Bee reported.
Harden spent two stints in Napa State Hospital, a psychiatric facility, before standing trial..
He was returned to Sacramento on a certification of being presently competent, which sent the case back to trial, Harden’s lawyer Robert Saria told The Bee last month.
The Ramirez family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the county alleging that jail employees improperly placed Harden in the same cell as the homicide victim. Attorneys for the family maintained that Harden had a racial prejudice against Mexican nationals.
After the incident Harden allegedly said “you should let me go. They come over the border and take all of our jobs.”
Harden denied making the statement in court when it was presented to the jury, Saria said to The Bee.
Before trial, a judge ruled that jail employees are immune from civil actions that challenge their discretion on cell placements, dismissing the part of the suit that targeted Harden’s inmate classification.
A jury later exonerated the remaining deputy defendant who was accused in the civil suit of failing to respond fast enough to a third inmate’s emergency call about a ruckus in the Harden-Ramirez cell.