Suspect in Newport Bailey Nurseries stabbing committed to state hospital
A former member of Cuban national boxing team who allegedly stabbed to death a co-worker did so because he was having paranoid delusions that the other man was trying to kill him, according to a recent commitment order.
The delusions stem from major mental illness, which doctors believe was caused by his career as a boxer, court documents said.
After two psychological examinations, Gregorio Maso Ramirez, 57, of St. Paul, last week was deemed mentally ill and dangerous and committed to a state hospital.
He is accused of stabbing Uriel Navarro Ortiz, 44, of Fridley, at Bailey Nurseries in the Twin Cities suburb of Newport in February. The Washington County attorney's office charged him with second-degree intentional murder.
"The Respondent, without provocation and while reportedly acting in response to a paranoid delusional belief that his co-worker was poisoning his food and water, brought a knife to his place of employment and attacked and killed the co-worker," Judge Richard Ilkka wrote in his commitment order.
Ramirez was examined by separate doctors May 15 and June 9. Each concluded that he suffers from a psychotic disorder and organic brain impairment. One doctor reported that Ramirez's symptoms "are very similar to individuals who have been diagnosed with Dementia Pugilistica, which is a syndrome that has been identified in a significant percentage of individuals such as professional boxers, football players and others who may have experienced multiple concussions or head trauma over the course of their careers.
Ramirez had an accomplished career as a fighter and trainer before coming to the United States in 2010.
He began training at age 15 and later fought on the Cuban national team as a welterweight. He narrowly missed fighting in the 1972 Olympics. He held a 221-28 win-loss record during his 20-year boxing career, which included international success.
Ramirez stayed on as a trainer for the Cuban national team until he moved to the United States.
He moved to be closer to family, he said in a 2011 interview with the Pioneer Press. He arrived in the fall of 2010 with his 13-year-old daughter, planning for his wife and a son to arrive months later.
It's unclear when Ramirez's reported mental illness began to show itself.
But doctors have deemed the symptoms severe enough that Ramirez poses a threat to the public.
"(Ramirez's) mental illness has manifested itself in the form of paranoid delusions that others are trying to poison his food and water, or administering poison gases, in an attempt to harm or kill him," the commitment order said. "While incarcerated, (Ramirez) refused to eat and drink, which resulted in a 26-pound weight loss in a six-week period. The Respondent was also observed engaging in head-banging against the jail cell walls and bars."
Ramirez also allegedly repeatedly punched a corrections officer until the officer used a stun gun to subdue him. Ramirez subsequently told officers he believed the holding room was filling with poisonous gases and that he attacked the officer to try to get a gun to commit suicide, the judge's order said.
Doctors reported that Ramirez has improved while undergoing treatment at the state hospital in St. Peter, but that he continues to be a danger to others and that he "continues to lack insight into his mental illness," the order said.
Because Ramirez has been committed as mentally ill and dangerous, the criminal proceedings are suspended indefinitely.
The court requested an updated report on Ramirez by early February.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service. Ruben Rosario contributed to this report.