A man charged with stabbing a transgender woman he met online and setting her Pico-Union home on fire in 2018 has been sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison, authorities announced Tuesday.
A judge sentenced 32-year-old Kevyn Ramirez on Monday for arson of an inhabited structure and the first-degree murder of activist Victoria Ramos Gutierrez, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The two had met on a dating website, prosecutors said. In the early hours of January 10, 2018, Ramirez stabbed Gutierrez during an argument in the victim’s residence before setting it ablaze, according to LAPD.
Firefighters responded to the fire at around 3:15 a.m. that day, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. They arrived to find heavy flames contained to a single unit of the two-story apartment building on New Hampshire Avenue near Vermont Avenue.
Crews extinguished the blaze in about 45 minutes and discovered the body during a search, the Fire Department said. Police deemed the death suspicious.
Authorities arrested Ramirez the day after the fire, inmate records show. Five days later, prosecutors charged Ramirez with arson and murder. He pleaded no contest last July.
Gutierrez, who was 33 years old and went by “Viccky,” was an active organizer within the L.A. Latinx LGBTQ community, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
In 2015, Gutierrez worked on an event organized by the Los Angeles LGBT Center to honor transgender victims of violence.
“It’s ironic that she ended up being a victim also,” program manager Mariana Marroquin said in 2018.
Friends raised funds so she could be laid to rest in her native Honduras, the Human Rights Campaign said. Her loved ones believe Gutierrez came to Los Angeles so “she could live there free from persecution,” according to the group.
“Those who knew Viccky remember her as someone ‘whose warm smile would give anyone comfort’ and who served as an inspiration to those around her,” the Human Rights Campaign said.
In a statement to KTLA after Ramirez’s sentencing on Monday, Terra Russell-Slavin of the Los Angeles LGBT Center said “more needs to be done to ensure the safety of trans and gender nonbinary people.”
Russell-Slavin added, “This effort starts with investing in the lives of trans people before they are killed and by ending widespread intolerance and bias against the trans community.”
According to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, 28 transgender people have been killed in the U.S. so far this year, a majority of them Black and Latinx trans women.
“This violence must be stopped before more lives are senselessly lost,” Russell-Slavin said.