HANFORD — Jason James Reyes pleaded no contest Wednesday to five violent crimes in three counties, including the 2012 shooting death of a father in front a Hanford store.
Kings County Assistant District Attorney Nick Schuller said the Reyes plea carries a sentence of 51 years to life in prison. Reyes was scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 22.
Reyes pleaded no contest to a charge of second-degree homicide for the March 5, 2012, shooting death of Armando Ramirez Jr. at the Rite Aid on at 11th Avenue and Lacey Boulevard. Ramirez was walking with his young daughter when he was gunned down. Police said the killing may have been in retaliation against Ramirez, who was convicted of molesting Reyes’ daughter about a decade earlier.
Reyes was found mentally unfit to stand trial in June 2012 and sent to a state mental hospital for treatment. He was declared competent in mid-2013.
Reyes allegedly tried to kill an inmate in the Kings County Jail in August 2016. Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson told The Sentinel last month that Reyes manipulated the lock on his cell’s food port and lured the inmate over to his cell. When the other inmate complied, Reyes grabbed him and cut him with a razorblade from a jail-issued shaving kit.
Fearing for the safety of other inmates, county officials sought a court order to house him at California State Prison, Corcoran.
While housed at the jail, Reyes committed other crimes. Reyes already pleaded no contest to a 2014 assault charge. He has also been charged for assaulting a custodial officer in August 2015, and five incidents of possessing alcohol or drugs in jail between 2014 and 2015.
Schuller said the Kings County District Attorney’s Office worked with authorities in Alameda and Ventura counties to prosecute several criminal cases against Reyes in those counties. Those crimes included:
- Second-degree murder for another shooting committed in Alameda County on Feb. 13, 2012.
- Attempted murder for a March 2, 2012, incident in Alameda County in which Reyes fired a gun at three people, striking one victim.
- Attempted murder using a firearm for a March 13, 2012, shooting in Ventura County.
Schuller prosecuted the cases with Deputy District Attorney Matt Darby. Reyes was represented by court appointed attorney Melina Benninghoff and retained attorney Jim Trevino.
Reyes will appear in court for sentencing on April 27.