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AMERICAN FORK — A prison inmate serving time for murder is under investigation after he sent a letter to a judge asking for a new trial. Problem is, that's not all he sent.
Along with the handwritten letter, the Utah County Attorney's Office said Ramon Somoza included a razor blade. The convicted murderer is now under investigation for attempting to influence or retaliate against a judge.
The letter was sent to 4th District Court Judge Lynn Davis, who presided over Somoza's 2011 murder trial.
“It wasn’t actually received by the judge; it was a clerk that received it. She immediately turned it over to deputies, and there has been an investigation ongoing since that,” said Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander.
Investigators believe the razor blade was taken out of a standard razor for shaving, and then taped to Samoza's court documents.
Somoza is serving a 15 years to life sentence for a murder he committed in 2009 at the Apollo Dance Hall in American Fork. He claimed he killed Jesus Landin in self-defense. Instead of calling 911, Somoza wrapped Landin’s body in plastic and dumped it in Tooele County's West Desert.
Since he was found guilty, Somoza has been on a quest for a new trial and is now representing himself.
“What is alarming (is): how does an inmate send mail, and include in that mail a razor blade that could have arrived to the judge?” Grunander said. “Fortunately, Judge Davis didn’t receive it.”
What is alarming (is): how does an inmate send mail, and include in that mail a razor blade that could have arrived to the judge?
–Chad Grunander, Deputy Utah County Attorney
Brooke Adams, public information officer for the Utah Department of Corrections, responded by saying: "Our mailroom staff randomly screens outgoing mail in an effort to prevent contraband of any kind from leaving the facility. We were contacted about the letter, facilitated an interview with the inmate and we will take action as appropriate. While we don't know the details yet, we are grateful no one was injured while handling the letter.”
Last week, while in court on the murder appeal, Somoza tried apologizing to the judge.
“Mr. Somoza was prepared to talk about it, I think prepared to explain his reasons for how (the razor blade) may have gotten in there. And for now, the judge didn’t want to hear it,” Grunander said.
That is because of the pending investigation into the threat, Grunander said.
Prosecutors expect to get the case from investigators next week, when they can begin to decide if new charges against Somoza will be filed.
Somoza will be back in court on June 3 for a hearing in his ongoing effort to get a new trial.