County of Conviction: Los Angeles
Convicted of: First Degree Murder, Burglary, Robbery
Sentence: Life without Parole
Year of Conviction: 1997
In 1994, after years of financial difficulties, Ramzi Badwi’s situation began to improve significantly. Badwi worked as a supervising handyman and did work at the Pacific Oaks Medical Center-Los Angeles. By 1996, Badwi had an apartment, a jet ski, and a new Toyota Tacoma. Badwi frequented pawnshops when he needed extra cash; in 1996, Badwi pawned a stereo, two leather jackets, and some power tools.
Grace Perrin was an 84-year old widow and beloved member of the neighborhood. Perrin hired a number of workers to help with home maintenance. Mark Davis, who hired an assistant known as Jose, worked on the roof, while Miguel Santana maintained Perrin’s yard.
On the afternoon of October 31, 1996, Perrin’s neighborhood discovered her body lying in the back yard. Her body showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head, which was later determined to be the cause of death. The wounds on her body indicated she had put up a struggle and that ligature strangulation had occurred. Perrin still had a gold watch and a gold necklace on her body, but her house appeared ransacked, and police were unable to find her house keys.
Branch, a salesperson who parked in the neighborhood, witnessed a conversation between Perrin and a man, whom he later identified as Badwi. The conversation appeared to be an amiable one about Badwi refusing to accept payment for his services. Branch identified two men, one of whom was Badwi, as part of a 6-man photo lineup but he was unable point to one suspect specifically. Branch testified that he initially thought the man was Hispanic or Middle Eastern. However, Detective Dejamette testified that Branch originally described the suspect as Hispanic, Puerto Rican, or Caucasian. Branch described the man’s height as between 5’9’ and 5’11’’, but Badwi was only 5’7’. Branch also noticed a gray truck parked behind the household. While superficially similar, Badwi’s truck was an older model with an extra cab and front license plate, unlike the one Branch described.
On the day of the murder, Badwi was transporting his belongings from his brother’s garage in Long Beach to his brother’s girlfriend’s house in Pomona. Badwi’s brother and his brother’s girlfriend both corroborated his alibi. When Badwi’s brother visited the garage around 3:00 p.m., most of Badwi’s belongings had already been moved.
On November 1, 1997, Badwi visited a pawn shop to sell a peacock ring with a red-jeweled flower pattern. Perrin’s manicurist for seven years recognized the ring as belonging to Perrin, although she did not recall seeing a flower pattern around Perrin’s ring. Perrin’s nephew and niece, who visited their aunt frequently, did not recognize the ring. Other than the peacock ring, Ramzi Badwi neither pawned nor possessed any other items that could have potentially have come from Perrin’s house.
Caudell, a forensic fingerprint specialist, lifted three partial latent fingerprints from inside Perrin’s house. Caudell matched Badwi’s prints based on less than ten similar ridge points, below the minimum requirement. In an unrelated 2014 court case, Caudell was called “incompetent” by the presiding judge. Lyn Haber, an expert in challenging fingerprints, stated that the process Caudell used was “unreliable.”
Shoeprints taken from the house and Perrin’s body did not match any of Ramzi Badwi’s shoes. Hair and fiber samples found on Perrin’s body were analyzed and did not match either Badwi’s hair or his clothing. In addition, when Badwi was arrested, two days after the murder, he lacked any injuries that would be associated with a violent struggle.
The prosecution’s evidence overflowed with internal inconstancies. For example, one detective testified Ramzi Badwi’s business card was found in Perrin’s trash can, while another said police discovered his card in Badwi’s own wallet. The prosecution theorized Perrin was murdered when she returned home to the burglary in process. However, an anonymous police officer informed CIP that the prosecution’s theory was incorrect, as a burglar would not enter a house if a dead body was outside, and the suspect did not take the jewelry off Perrin’s body.
At the minimum, this is an unfortunate example of gross incompetence displayed by LAPD investigators. CIP is doing everything in its power to prove Badwi’s innocence, including identifying the source of the unknown male DNA profile to find the true culprit.