Pankie Nolan couldn’t find the words to describe how her daughter’s killing two years ago affected her family as she testified on the second day of Ruben Ramos III’s murder trial. She broke down in tears and left the courtroom.
Ramos, 23, pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial Monday in the 364th District Court to the Oct. 13, 2015, killing of 23-year-old Nakasha Nolan.
After Ramos was sentenced Thursday to life in prison, Pankie Nolan’s words of loss were finally spoken in a victim impact statement read in court by Mona Nolan, Nakasha Nolan’s step grandmother, during a victim impact statement.
“I suffer every day and will continue to for the rest of my life,” Pankie Nolan wrote. “Nakasha was a very loved person. Every time you see her you saw a beautiful smile upon her face, and that was stolen from me.”
Jurors heard three days of testimony and saw evidence that included horrific crime scene photos of Nolan’s wounded body. They also heard from jailers who recounted episodes of Ramos’ abhorrent behavior while in jail that included throwing urine at another inmate, disrespecting jailers, one of whom he threatened to rape.
They also saw a video of Ramos’ jail visit with his sister the day before his trial started in which he shared his plan to hurt Nolan’s family in court if they celebrated his punishment. He said he planned to smile at the family and mock how Nolan suffered when he and another man stabbed her. Prosecutors asked jurors to sentence Ramos to prison for life saying his behavior when he killed Nolans and after his arrest justifies it.
The jury’s deliberation lasted 27 minutes.
Ramos sat quietly as the victim impact statements were read to him in court.
Mona Nolan told Ramos what he said to his sister showed he had learned nothing while he was in jail. He said what he did to her granddaughter was unimaginable.
“You not only killed her, you made her suffer,” she said. “You have no remorse at all for taking someone’s life, which means you should never be free to inflict pain on another person.”
Ramos’ attorney, Jeff Nicholson, asked jurors for a 30-year sentence. He tried to frame the damning video of Ramos’ visit with his sister as words coming from a man going through a tidal wave of emotions as he faced decades in prison.
He said his client was immediately remorseful after killing Nolan and arranged his arrest the next day at the same apartment complex where Nolan’s body was found, stabbed a dozen times in her Chevrolet Impala. Ramos’ cooperation with detectives helped bring a swift end to the investigation, he said.
Nicholson said after the trial he hoped his client would use his time in prison to change his life.
“I just hope both families can move forward and hopefully he will do those things when he is incarcerated that will help him be productive and then, maybe when he returns at some point, can benefit society and we can go forward,” he said.
He said he extended an apology from Ramos to Pankie Nolan through other family members.
“Under the circumstances, the easy thing to do would be write a letter of apology, but for legal reasons, at least at this point, that may not be appropriate,” Nicholson said. “But I can assure you, that if it were appropriate at this time to do that we would have already done that.”
Nolan’s family, however, said they didn’t see any remorse during the trial.
“He laughed, he taunted us every day,” said Mona Nolan. “But I know when he comes up for parole, he’s not going to be laughing and taunting us no more.”
Ramos will be eligible for parole after 30 years.
Jaquita Nolan described her sister as a mother with no children. While Nakahsa, who also went by Kasha, was only two years older than her sister, she filled in the role of a parent when their parents were unable.
“She loved me with the same amount of love that my mother or any mother would love their own,” she wrote in her victim impact statement that was also read in court. “She taught me a majority of what I know. Losing her has just broke my family into pieces.”
She said her sister also helped raise her two children. She was six-months pregnant with her third child when her sister was killed.
“All we have left is memories, pictures and a sweet angel by the name of Za’Kasha Unique to keep us going and getting us through the day of our lives.”
She said Ramos’ sentence will help her family heal, but she wrote to Ruben that she is still haunted by unanswered question of why her sister was killed.
“We just really thank God that we had a good jury and we knew that, at the end of the road, it was God’s decision,” she said. “It was in his hands so there was never a doubt.”
The reason for Nolan’s death was not brought up during the trial as Ramos entered his plea and the trial focused on his punishment. His co-defendant, 21-year-old Justin Flores, awaits trial while he is held at the Lubbock County Detention Center on a charge of murder.