Inside Department 22 of San Joaquin Superior Court, Judge Terrence Van Oss read the sentences for charges that Carén Ramirez, Kelly Lau and Michael Schumacher pleaded guilty to on Oct. 8.
They all must serve at least 85 percent of their lengthy prison stints before being considered for parole.
Though Ramirez, Lau and Schumacher all received somewhat equal sentences — 34, 33 and 30 years, respectively — prosecutor Angela Hayes said after the hearing that Ramirez and Lau were the ringleaders in the abuse. Hayes said Schumacher and Anthony Waiters, a neighbor found guilty via jury trial of participating in the abuse, were likely the women’s enforcers.
But the defendants who appeared in court Monday never explained why they had chained, starved and abused Kyle. Neither could Hayes.
“I can’t explain to you why this occurred. I’d like to,” she said outside the courtroom, saying the case was like none she’s seen. “It defies logic and defies the imagination.”
She added that there was likely no one reason for the abuse, but a confluence of factors that only the defendants or possibly psychologists could explain.
“They’re going to have a lot of time to think about it and possibly come up with a reason why they did it. … I just know they’re four people in the world that should have never met.”
Kyle Ramirez, the now 18-year-old who was held captive, beaten, battered, cut and starved in Lau’s and Schumacher’s home on Tennis Lane in Tracy when he was 16, did not speak at the sentencing.
Several others, however, spoke in an "emotionally charged" session.
Even Van Oss, when speaking to Lau at the hearing’s end, admonished the trio, who were restrained by shackles and clad in orange jumpsuits.
“I just can’t imagine what’s going on here, and I hope you find some peace,” he said.
As part of the plea agreement, a charge of torture was withdrawn against Ramirez, Lau and Schumacher. Hayes said a big reason for that move, as well as the deal, was to keep Lau and Schumacher’s children from having to testify in court.
However, torture was not withdrawn in the trial of Waiters, who was found guilty on all the counts he faced on Nov. 23.
Waiters and his family maintain his innocence despite the jury’s verdict, saying Waiters could not receive a fair trial in San Joaquin County because of the media’s coverage of the case. Hayes, however, called the evidence against Waiters “overwhelming.”
He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 18 in Department 22 of San Joaquin Superior Court, and Hayes said he could face life in prison with the possibility of parole.