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2 gang members arrested in death of homeless man

BRADENTON — Bradenton Police Department detectives arrested two SUR-13 gang members Friday who allegedly beat a homeless man to death Feb. 23.

Luis A. Rincon, 17, and Robert A. Ramirez, 18, both of Bradenton, were arrested by Detective Greg Price on charges of homicide in the commission of a crime and conspiracy to commit burglary, according to arrest reports. Daniel Case, 59, was found behind Griggs Plumbing on 12th Avenue West and 14th Street West where he normally stayed. He was sitting in a chair with a hooded sweatshirt over his head with blood all over his head and spattered around him, according to the arrest report. A team of detectives investigated the scene and believe Case was beaten with a aluminum baseball bat and golf club found inside a nearby tree on a vacant property, according to the reports. Both items had Case’s blood on them, according to the report.

Police were able to follow a tip submitted to Crimestoppers, and used the information to find the two teens.

Both teens told detectives they went to a tire shop to steal speakers. They were going to use the golf club and baseball bat to shatter the glass. The teens told police they never committed the burglary, according to the arrest report.

Price said he was able to get both teen suspects to talk by alluding to DNA evidence.

Police took Ramirez’s DNA off of a Pepsi can and submitted it to the lab. The lab results showed it was a “possible contributor to the mixed DNA profile obtained from the baseball grip,” according to the report.

Police questioned Ramirez at the jail where he was serving time for violating his probation for a first degree misdemeanor of possession of marijuana. Ramirez was also arrested March 18 on an obstruction charge, according to court records.

Ramirez told detectives, “Mr. Rincon told him that the man behind the building approached him and he had to take care of him,” according to the report.

He said he handed the bat to Rincon.

When Rincon was interviewed, he was at the Juvenile Assessment Center on an unrelated charge. He told detectives he hit Case with a golf club in “self defense,” according to the arrest report.

Rincon told detectives he was confronted by Case, but said Case did not say anything to him.

“Mr. Rincon stated that he did not mean to kill the man and that they didn’t go over there to commit a murder,” according to the report.

Case was hit several times. The golf club broke into two or three pieces, Ramirez told police in the report. Ramirez’s DNA was never found because he used his shirt sleeves to cover his hands.

“Mr. Ramirez stated that he and Mr. Rincon spoke about the murder after it happened and that they both felt bad and didn’t mean to kill the man,” according to the report.

Ramirez said he never struck Case.

The medical examiner told police it appeared Case was struck in the head with two different objects, according to the report.

Ramirez said they took off running when Case was screaming.

Rachel Case, Case’s mother, said she was comforted by the thought her son’s assailants were caught.

She smiles when she thinks of her son, a Vietnam veteran, when he was younger.

“No one would touch him. When he played football, they called him “Hard Case” because he could hit so hard,” she said.

But that wasn’t the Case the teens had found. The man who was weathered from life on the streets could not use one of his arms and had cataracts in his eyes.

“I don’t want to see them die,” said Rachel Case when thinking about what may come of the teens if convicted. “They are awful young to die, but I think they should pay for what they have done. ... I’m glad they won’t be hurting someone else.”