Accused killer planning his own defense

Jose E. Ramos has not been sitting idle as he awaits trial at a maximum security prison for the 2008 shooting death in Norwich of Tynel "Blue" Hardwick.

Ramos, 30, who is also known as "Kool-aid," is planning his defense, even though he has a court-appointed attorney who has been gathering information and discussing the case with a prosecutor and judge during Ramos' monthly court appearances. In an eight-page handwritten letter on file in New London Superior Court, Ramos cites relevant case law while demanding information he claims is necessary for his defense.

Prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla said during Ramos' court appearance earlier this week that the state will make an offer to Ramos on his March 6 court date to resolve the case short of trial. Tytla said that based on his discussions with defense attorney Bruce B. McIntyre, he expects Ramos to reject any plea offer the state extends.

"It sounds like he's going to want a trial," said Tytla.

Before Ramos was led back to the courthouse lockup, Tytla warned him on the record that he might not want to rush to trial.

"There's that fine balance between getting to trial and being fully and properly prepared," he said.

For Ramos, who faces up to 60 years in prison, and for the victim's survivors, who waited years for an arrest, the judicial process has moved slowly. Ramos was charged with murder in 2012, four years after he allegedly shot Hardwick, 29, outside Rumors Bar & Grill at 88 Bos well Ave. on Oct. 10, 2008.

He is accused of retrieving a rifle from his nearby home after exchanging words with Hardwick inside the bar, lying in wait on an embankment across the street and shooting Hardwick in the back of the head from a distance of about 143 feet.

Norwich police identified Ramos as a possible suspect, but detectives were unable to obtain an arrest warrant until four years later, when cold case investigators interviewed cooperating witnesses. Ramos was arrested in Queens, N.Y., in September 2012 and extradited to Connecticut. He is being held in lieu of $2.1 million at the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers.

Ramos' court case has been handled in the usual manner, and McIntyre said he has explained the process to Ramos. But like many other prisoners, Ramos has grown impatient and engaged in what is commonly referred to as "jailhouse lawyering." A July 31, 2013, letter Ramos sent to McIntyre and copied for the court clerk's file is crammed with legal terminology and citations and riddled with spelling errors.

Citing the Connecticut Practice Book of court rules along with Brady v. Maryland, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court opinion pertaining to disclosure of evidence to the defense, Ramos requests "any and all written or recorded material" in the case.

Delving into other precedent-setting opinions and rules, Ramos goes on to request the personnel files of detectives who worked on the case, financial statements of the state's Cold Case Unit, copies of the judicial marshals' transportation reports and the criminal and psychiatric records of witnesses.

Ramos is also seeking copies of "eye records" of any and all witnesses expected to testify at the trial.

"None of the witnesses have 20/20 (vision) and records will prove many things," the letter says.

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