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Florida Prosecutors Want Death Penalty For Two USVI Men Accused Of Murdering Dentist

MIAMI — Hialeah prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for two U.S. Virgin Islands men charged in the fatal shooting of a Florida dentist.

A Hialeah District Court grand jury indicted Ralph Benjamin, 39, and Hector Ledesma, 34, on first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Each man pleaded not guilty in a Florida courtroom on Friday.

According to a Hialeah police report, Benjamin shot 59-year-old Carmen Ramirez multiple times on the stairwell leading to her dental office in Hialeah, Florida in November. She died exactly one month from the date she was shot.

An investigation determined that Ledesma is the brother of Jose Ledesma, who is facing three to five years in prison if convicted of identity theft. The victim in that 2015 case was Ramirez, who was set to testify in his trial.

Police said Ledesma defrauded Ramirez out of more than $40,000.

Investigators determined that Benjamin and Ledesma purchased one-way tickets to the U.S. Virgin Islands where they live, the day after the shooting.

Benjamin and Ledesma were arrested as they prepared to board a plane at Miami International Airport.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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