- Associated Press - Friday, December 2, 2016

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) - A man pleaded guilty to a 2014 bank robbery and gunbattle with police in Stockton, California, that ended with the death of a woman used as a human shield and two other suspects, prosecutors said Friday.

Jaime Ramos, 21, agreed to spend life in prison without the possibility of release for the death of Misty Holt-Singh, a 41-year-old wife and mother of two. She was taken hostage in the 2014 robbery and died in a spray of bullets fired by police that killed two other suspects.

Another two women taken hostage survived serious injuries in the hour-long running shootout with police throughout Stockton.

“The loss of Mrs. Singh remains in our hearts,” San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazer said in a statement. “We must remember the good.”

Three armed men entered a Bank of the West branch on July 16, 2014, and took three women, two bank employees and a customer hostage. A pursuit and shootout followed when the robbers fled with the hostages in a sports utility vehicle owned by one of the employees, police have said.

Holt-Singh was hit by 10 bullets police fired as Ramos used her as a human shield. The other two women survived after being thrown from the moving vehicle or jumping out, police have said.

Holt-Singh’s family has sued the city and the police department, saying officers used unreasonable force when they fired more than 600 times at the vehicle containing the suspects and the hostage.

A report the Stockton police department commissioned found the shots officers fired at the end of the bank robbery were excessive and unnecessary.

Ramos pleaded guilty in court to murder, carjacking and the attempted murder of a police officer. Prosecutors say that they agreed not to seek a death sentence for him.

His public defender, Jonathan Fattarsi, did not immediately return calls by The Associated Press seeking comment.

A second man, Pablo Ruvalcaba, also pleaded guilty to Holt-Singh’s murder, accepting a prison sentence of 25 years to life. The 23-year-old was accused of driving the three robbers to the bank.

Attorney Jeffrey Hirschfield, who represents Ruvalcaba, said the plea deals remove the need for a difficult trial that could have spanned months. Ruvalcaba has expressed sorrow, Hirschfield said.

Authorities identified the two dead suspects as Alex Gregory Martinez, 27, and Gilbert Renteria Jr., 30.

“I think these people assumed they would just get away with a robbery and nothing would happen,” Hirschfield said. “It didn’t work out that way.”


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