By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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The hearing before about a dozen spectators was Ramirez Matias’ first court hearing since he was arrested Wednesday in Forks.
The 25-year-old Guatemalan national is charged with first degree premeditated murder with a deadly weapon in the death of Laranda Konopaski, 18, early Sunday morning in a trailer at 1205 S. Forks Ave.
Wood set Ramirez Matias arraignment for 1:30 p.m. next Friday, Jan. 20.
Ramirez Matias, represented by Port Angeles lawyer Henry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender, said he had hired a Seattle attorney who was not present.
“I have a lot of words to say of what happened,” Ramirez Matias, a Guatemalan citizen illegally in the United States, said through a telephonic interpreter.
“I have a lot of words to say and I was going to explain to the attorney who was going to be here that I have proof,” he added.
Wood stopped Ramirez Matias from proceeding with his statement.
“The court only wants to know if you understand the conditions of release” if Ramirez Matias makes bail.
Gasnick objected to the amount of bail.
“I think $2 million is on its face excessive, especially in light of no consideration for what the defendant’s assets must be,” Gasnick said.
“Asking that much from an indigent person is ridiculous.”
Wood responded that the bail was appropriate “given the circumstances.”
The couple’s 4-year-old daughter, Mariah, was in the trailer at the time of the murder, called 9-1-1, and told the dispatcher her mother was dead, according to court documents.
Ramirez Matias was deported once before re-entering the country, authorities have said.
Ramirez Matias was held at the Forks jail until Thursday morning, when Forks police transported him to the Clallam County jail in time for his hearing.
“I spoke with him briefly, and he understands pretty well the English language,” said Ron Sukert, county jail superintendent, earlier on Thursday.
“I said if he had any concerns or issues, would he be able to communicate with me, and he said yes.”
If convicted, Ramirez Matias could be sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Upon his release, he could be prosecuted for an immigration violation.
Mariah was placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.
A public graveside service for Konopaski is planned at 1 p.m. Monday at Mount Angeles Memorial Park, Monroe Road at U.S. Highway 101 in Port Angeles.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.