Appeal rejected in failed murder-for-hire plot targeting woman’s mother

A three-justice panel Wednesday rejected an appeal from a couple convicted of charges stemming from an unsuccessful plot to kill the woman’s mother in Long Beach about 5 1/2 years ago.

The panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions of Holly Ramos and Frank Haverly, who were found guilty of one count each of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree robbery. At trial prosecutors said they hired a third defendant, Keith Phillips, to to rob and kill Ramos’ mother.

Ramos was additionally convicted of one count each of second-degree commercial burglary and grand theft of labor, along with two counts of forgery.

The appellate panel also upheld the first-degree robbery conviction of Phillips, who went to the home of Ramos’ mother while posing as a social worker on Oct. 11, 2013. Jurors found true an allegation that he personally used a bat and personally inflicted great bodily injury, but acquitted him of attempted murder, conspiracy and burglary. He was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

Ramos and Haverly are each serving 31-year-to-life state prison terms.

The appellate panel noted that Ramos peppered her mother and uncle with inquiries that would allow her to determine when her mother would be home alone, and that she and Haverly gave Phillips clothing and lent him their van. Jurors could “reasonably conclude that the parties conspired to commit murder and that at least one overt act was performed in furtherance of the conspiracy,” according to the ruling.

Prosecutors said Ramos’ mother had discovered that her daughter was forging checks from her bank account, and had petitioned for custody of Ramos’ two young children, who had been placed in foster care after her September 2013 arrest on drug possession and child endangerment charges in Monterey County.

Phillips gave his real name when he went to visit Ramos’ mother at her home under the guise of being a social worker from Monterey sent to do a home inspection, according to prosecutors. The woman was then struck on the head twice when her back was turned during a tour of the home, prosecutors said.

Officers found the severely beaten woman after responding to a report of a person screaming near 69th Place and Ocean Boulevard.

Detectives initially thought the case may have involved a random home invasion robbery before uncovering evidence of the murder plot directed at the woman by her daughter and son-in-law. The woman suspected her family members were involved and helped detectives gather evidence.

DNA analysis was used to link Phillips to the attack, according to police, who said detectives obtained corroborating evidence that Ramos and her husband were associates of Phillips.

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