Testimony in the murder trial of Justin Wayne Green, an Iraq war veteran accused of killing a fellow soldier at a Petrolia residence, began today in Henrietta.
The skeletal remains of Jose Ramirez, 23, of El Centro, Calif., were discovered in a shallow grave located on the 160-acre property Feb. 8, 2012 during the execution of a search warrant by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Rangers.
His death is believed to have occurred five years earlier, in January 2007, when he lived at the residence with Justin Green and his mother Terri Janiece Green.
Green, 31, formerly of Petrolia, was arrested in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 10, 2012, and charged with first-degree murder.
Paige Williams, 97th District Attorney, told jurors that Green’s attorney’s would present their client as having acted in self defense when he shot and killed Ramirez. “But in fact it was cold-blooded, premeditated, unjustifiable murder,” said Williams.
In opening arguments, the defense council cast Ramirez as an outsider and introvert who Green had befriended, only to have Ramirez threaten him and his family.
Defense Attorney Dustin Nimz told jurors that Ramirez had purchased 17 firearms in a 10-month period while stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., and had withdrawn while living in the Green residence to the point that he would not speak to others.
Justin Green and Ramirez met not long after Green returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq, and the two served a second tour together. Ramirez moved into the Green house just before August 2006 after he was discharged.
Nimz said Ramirez had pointed a gun at Terri Green while she held Justin Green’s son. In the morning following the incident, Justin Green asked Ramirez to leave the home. The two men had a verbal dispute during which the defense claims Ramirez reached for a .44 caliber “Desert Eagle” pistol, one of several weapons laying on a bed in the bedroom used by Ramirez.
“Ramirez was Justin’s best friend,” said Nimz in opening arguments. “But, the moment he reached over and pulled a gun on Justin, he made an enemy and Justin did what he had to do.”
Nimz said that as Ramirez cocked the large firearm, Justin Green grabbed a 9 mm pistol and fired three rounds, striking Ramirez twice.
John Ax, owner of a Lawton, Okla., gun shop, confirmed that he had completed transfers for Ramirez on 17 weapons beginning in April 2006. The weapons included the Desert Eagle pistol and the 9 mm pistol used by Justin Green.
The prosecution contends that Green could have murdered Ramirez for money. Ax estimated the value of the guns at approximately $20,000, including a Barrett 50-caliber rifle valued at $7,500 to $8,000 when purchased.
On Oct. 15, 2007, the same 9 mm pistol purchased by Ramirez was discovered in the vehicle of Justin Green by Wichita Falls Police. The WFPD confiscated another weapon from Green on Feb. 4, 2008. This time it was a 44-caliber Desert Eagle. On both occasions, the weapons were found with one round in the chamber and a full magazine, according to testimony.
Prosecutors spent most of the day introducing physical evidence in the case, including two pieces of gypsum wallboard cut from the bedroom and from the opposite side in the front entry of the house, both of which showed bullet holes.
Texas Ranger Marshall Thomas testified that one round was found inside the wall, having passed through the gypsum board inside the bedroom, but not through the entryway wall. The Ranger said blood was found throughout the bedroom and hall leading to the garage, and on the garage floor and garage door trim trough the use of a chemical luminescent.
During his testimony, jurors were show photos of the gravesite and skeletal remains of Ramirez.
Testimony in the trial continues at 9 a.m. Thursday.