CHELSEA — A Chelsea man accused of killing a mother of three with a stray bullet early Saturday was free on bail at the time, awaiting trial for two armed robberies — including one in which he allegedly pointed a gun at a man’s head, according to court records.
Hector Ramires, who will turn 21 on Thursday, shuffled into Chelsea District Court on Tuesday with his lawyer’s black jacket draped over his head to hide his face, and he pleaded not guilty in the slaying of 35-year-old Katerin “Catherine” Gomez.
Suffolk Assistant District Attorney David Fredette said Ramires and an unidentified companion confronted a group of people on Shawmut Street shortly after midnight Saturday, then Ramires pulled a gun and fired a single round that went through the window of a residence, fatally wounding Gomez.
“He has made statements that he is the one who pulled the trigger,” Fredette told the judge, as a translator stood by Ramires’s side, translating from English to Spanish.
A handful of Gomez’s relatives wept quietly during the hearing, then later voiced frustration that they were unable to see the face of her accused killer.
“He didn’t just kill a random person, an animal,’’ said a woman who identified herself as Gomez’s niece but declined to give her name.
“He killed a woman, not someone who was out on the streets partying or anything, someone who was taking care of her children,” she said.
Gomez had two daughters, ages 13 and 2, and a 4-year-old son, according to her relatives. They described her as a kind, church-going woman who supported her children in Massachusetts and her mother in her native Dominican Republic.
As the hearing was about to begin, public defender Kelli Lea Porges asked the judge to let Ramires remain out of sight, arguing that identification was a critical issue in the case and she wanted to obscure his race, height, and weight from the scrutiny of cameras and spectators in the courtroom.
“It’s a public proceeding,” said District Judge Matthew J. Nestor, ordering Ramires to appear. “I am not going to let you stand and hold something in front of him.’’
However, Porges quickly slipped her jacket to Ramires just before he emerged from a door leading to the prisoner’s dock. He draped it over his head, covering half of his body.
The judge ordered Ramires held without bail on the slaying case and revoked bail that had been set for him in the two robbery cases pending in Suffolk Superior Court. Ramires had been free on bail after being charged with the two robberies in Chelsea in March and April.
In the first case, Ramires is accused of robbing a man on March 28 at knifepoint and taking his backpack, wallet, and approximately $100.
In the second, he is accused of robbing at gunpoint another man of his cellphone and about $50 on April 9, according to court filings.
The second victim said he was sitting on his porch on Spencer Avenue when Ramires, who was accompanied by a second gunman, pointed a gun at his head and made him take his shirt off to see if he had any gang tattoos, according to the arrest report.
The victim told police that one of the robbers asked the other, “Should I shoot him?”
When police asked the man why he thought Ramires wanted to rob him, he responded, “I don’t think he likes me because he thinks I am [a member of the gang] 18th Street and I think he’s MS-13,” another gang, according to the police report.
On April 17, police interviewed Ramires, who identifies himself on Facebook as Colocho la Maravilla, the report said.
Police showed Ramires several still images that captured the April 9 incident, and according to the police report, he confessed, saying, “I robbed and assaulted him but I don’t know why I did it.”
Ramires told police that the gun he used during the robbery was fake, according to the report. He also allegedly admitted to being involved in a robbery “back in my country,” but the police report did not identify his native country.