Girl Crazy

Terra Ramirez knows what it's like to be a victim -- and to victimize.

Javier Padilla is out on bond, scheduled for a trial starting October 2 on 22 charges, including six counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the McDonald's shooting. If convicted, he faces a minimum of sixteen years and a maximum of over 200. He, too, could not be reached for this story.

Through her mother, Vanessa Marquez, the Neon's owner, refused an interview request. Vanessa has not been charged with any crimes.

Andy Rubio went on trial in May for the Osceola shooting. Terra testified against him, as did thirteen-year-old Kenia.

First strike: Monique Trujillo (from left), Javier Padilla, 
Roy Acosta, Hector Cibrian and Vanessa Marquez 
were all named in connection with the shooting at 
McDonald's where Terra Ramirez was injured in April 
First strike: Monique Trujillo (from left), Javier Padilla, Roy Acosta, Hector Cibrian and Vanessa Marquez were all named in connection with the shooting at McDonald's where Terra Ramirez was injured in April 2005.

"It was the hardest thing I could do," Kenia says. "I didn't see any emotion throughout the trial, and when I went and testified, I actually saw him cry."

Andy was convicted of five counts of attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of illegally discharging a weapon. Andy refused an interview request, as did Natalie McFarlane, his girlfriend at the time of the shooting, who's out on bond until her own trial in October.

On Tuesday, August 15, Andy was back in Denver District Court for his sentencing. The shooting forever changed Kenia and Celine, their mother told the judge. Every day the family worries; every night the girls say their prayers as if they could be their last.

When Andy addressed the court, he said that he had a daughter of his own and could never hurt a child. He even shed some tears as he told the judge, "Your honor, if it wasn't for Natalie or Terra Ramirez, I wouldn't be here talking to you right now."

As she handed down the sentence, Judge Christina Habas noted that Andy still wasn't taking responsibility for his actions. She'd heard him blame medication, attention-deficit disorder and Terra and Natalie for the shooting, yet it was Andy who ultimately pulled the trigger. The judge said she'd never forget the audiotape of Kenia and Celine's mother on the phone with 911, afraid that her daughters had just been killed in their own bed. And she sentenced Andy to 36 years in prison on each of the five counts, running consecutively for a total of 180 years.

On August 21, Kenia and Celine will mark the one-year anniversary of the shooting. They both take pills to fall asleep. Kenia also takes pills for pain and depression. She's had five surgeries so far, and although her hand is working pretty well, she still can't bend her pinkie all the way. Learning to tie her shoes again was particularly humbling.

"It's been really hard," Kenia says. "I've had physical therapy three times a week, counseling once a week, and school on top of that. I tell my mom all the time that it made me stronger. I feel like I can accomplish anything."

Monique Trujillo is facing a minimum of sixteen years and potentially more than 200 years in prison for her role in the McDonald's shooting. Through her parents, Monique declined to speak with Westword. Her mother, a case manager with the Denver Department of Human Services, says Monique is a good person who isn't tied up with gangs, despite the perception the media has perpetuated.

Monique's preliminary hearing is set for October 16, the same day that the victim in that shooting, Terra Ramirez, will be sentenced for her role in the shooting on Osceola.

Terra Ramirez has been in jail for almost a year. Before testifying at Andy's trial, she pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, a Class 3 felony for which she faces up to fifteen years in prison.

She didn't testify against Andy in order to get a better deal, she says, but because it was the right thing to do. She knew what Kenia and Celine were going through: She'd been an innocent bystander once, too, shot by someone she'd never met.

Terra knows how difficult it is to fight the hurt. If there were any advice she could give to Kenia and Celine, she says, it would be "Don't let the scars bother you."

Terra's mother, Teresa Ramirez, recruits nurses for a dialysis company. She says that her daughter is no gang member, but just fell into the wrong crowd after she was shot. "Myself and her doctor kept telling her to quit hanging out with Tomas and Andy," Teresa remembers. "I just got a real weird feeling about them. I didn't like them. I just kept telling her that she needed to stay away from them."

But in jail, Terra couldn't stay away -- and so she's spent most of her time in protective custody. Andy and Natalie were incarcerated at the same time and perceived as threats to Terra -- as were Roy and Javier, both in jail on charges of shooting her. Once, Andy got on a bus full of Denver prisoners -- all men but for Terra -- and told everyone that Terra was a snitch and said he was going to arrange for her ass to get whupped when she went to prison. After that, Andy caught another charge of obstructing justice for intimidating a witness. He pleaded guilty on August 3.

For the past eight months, Terra has had a roommate. They talk a lot. And Terra's recently started talking with the boy she was dating when she got shot. She'd stopped talking to Tomas, the gangster boyfriend she replaced him with, when she first went to jail, but they've begun writing to each other, too.

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