Fresno car thief accused of murder, assault, attempted beheading

February 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
One of Fresno's "Top Five" car thieves will head to trial for a more ghastly crime.

Tino Tufano, 31, was considered the city's No. 2 auto thief, when he was arrested for stealing cars. He had been in and out of jail at least a dozen times and was released again on November 28, 2011 because of overcrowding.

A week later, authorities said, he assaulted a Fresno woman inside her apartment on East Divisadero Street. The following day, on December 6th, he allegedly shot and killed Jacob Ramirez and tried to behead him in front of Ramirez friends.

"He killed him in a way that no one should be killed," said Susan Barboza, Ramirez aunt.

In a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon, Ramirez family listened in horror as Fresno Police Detective, Jennifer Federico, described what witnesses had reported.

"He slapped the victim's face, was laughing, looking around," said Federico. "He sat on the victim, wanted them to take a photograph of them with the victim and then he took the victim's shoes off and put them on."

Detectives said Tufono shot Ramirez twice in the head after smoking methamphetamine inside a converted garage on the property. That's where they said he ordered several people, at gunpoint, to move Ramirez from a chair to a nearby shower. The plan, Federico said, was to later dispose of the body.

"He wanted them to look for knives because he wanted to cut off his head and then have them cut the body up," she said.

Federico said, after several failed attempts, Tufono got frustrated and eventually left.

Two witnesses later identified his photograph in a six person line up and after an all-out manhunt, police arrested Tufano the following day.

"He shouldn't be allowed in the streets ever in his life and if it's done than I don't know how this system happens," said Barboza.

Ramirez mother and aunt said outside the courtroom following the hearing, that they blame the justice system for allowing a known criminal to roam the streets.

"The jail had a revolving door," said Ramirez mother, Elizabeth Shields. "He (Tufano) was in and he was out and each time he was coming back, his crime was increasing higher and higher."

This time, they hope Tufano is behind bars for good.

Tufano is expected to be back in court later this month to learn when he will head to trial. In the meantime, the judge increased his bail from $750,000 to $1.785 million to reflect the burglary and assault charges.


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