email@example.com PUBLISHED SUNDAY, FEB. 06, 2011
Richard Russell Harden chased the woman down at the Home Depot on Folsom Boulevard and bashed her three times with a hammer, sending her to the hospital with injuries to her back, neck and shoulder, according to prosecutors.
When the store's security team tackled him to the ground, according to court testimony, Harden indicated race was the motive behind his hammer-wielding assault on Feb. 16, 2009.
"You should let me go," Harden said after his attack on Geraldine Leon-Guerrero, according to testimony at his Sacramento Superior Court preliminary hearing. "They come over the border and take all of our jobs."
Following the attack, Sacramento police escorted Harden to the downtown jail, where sheriff's deputies put him in a cell with an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
While the fast-acting Home Depot security team minimized the damage in the hammer assault, nobody was around to take Harden down the next day when, according to authorities, he beat his Mexican cellmate to death and strangled him with a T-shirt.
Harden, 46, now faces a murder trial April 11 in the death of Evaristo Ramirez, a 25-year-old day laborer who had been in jail for a day after being arrested for drunken driving.
Prosecutors also charged Harden in a second count with assault with a deadly weapon on Leon-Guerrero. She has since recovered and is back at work.
When the trial ends, Ramirez's survivors will press a wrongful death suit they have filed against the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, the county, Harden and six deputies on the job the day of the death.
"Somebody dropped the ball," said Jesse Ortiz, the Sacramento lawyer representing the Ramirez family. "My understanding is they were made aware in the jail of exactly why Mr. Harden was in custody – because he specifically attacked a Mexican woman at the Home Depot. The last thing that should have happened was to house him with another Mexican kid."
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