FRESNO, Calif (KFSN) -- Action News is following the trail of the Fresno fugitive wanted in connection with the shooting death of 9-year-old Janessa Ramirez. What we've found is a hiding place, destroyed evidence, and an important clue from the scene of the crime.
21-year-old Donte Hawkins has been on the run for more than a month -- since Janessa was killed in mid-January. Hawkins left traces of himself in homes in Fresno and Clovis, and then made his way to Sacramento, according to search warrants we uncovered. And we can confirm he's accused of firing the first shots in the gunfight that ended Janessa's life.
The disappearance of Donte Hawkins has led police on a long search leading to a lot of dead ends. Search warrants show police tracked his cell phone to an apartment complex in Clovis where his sister lived. Investigators believe Aubria Galloway has been in constant contact with Hawkins since he left town, and she's even collected money to help keep him free. Legal analyst Ralph Torres says Galloway might've made herself an accessory after the murder of Janessa Ramirez, but only if police can prove she knew why her brother left town.
"If you want to help your brother and you don't know he's wanted, that's not against the law," Torres said.
Hawkins' phone eventually traveled to Sacramento, but after he got there police believe he broke it to keep them from tracking him. Now, the trail led in different directions. Investigators discovered Hawkins left his car at a Southeast Fresno home and they found a girlfriend there. Detectives thought Erin Green was withholding information, but she admitted talking to Hawkins while he was on the run. Torres says just the fact he took off could point to his guilt, but there are other possible explanations.
"It's a scary proposition," he said. "You may be innocent and not want to have to present yourself to police."
Search warrants also reveal that Isaac Stafford identified Hawkins as the shooter inside his car during the confrontation that led to Janessa's death. Stafford told police rival gang member Brian Cooks pointed a gun at Hawkins and him, then gunfire rang out. Witnesses described five or six shots, with the last one hitting Janessa as she and her mother tried to run into a nearby laundromat. Cooks admitted to firing just one shot, but acknowledged it was the one that hit the girl. Torres says he could claim self-defense, but only if Hawkins fired first and only if Stafford and Hawkins weren't driving away at the time.
"If he is in a mutual fight, mutual combat, or if the other people are running away and he continues to shoot, then that self-defense is gone," Torres said.
Police tell us they're still investigating the case and hope to arrest Hawkins soon. Meanwhile, Brian Cooks has entered a not guilty plea to the murder, but as of Tuesday morning, he's cycled through eight attorneys. The first seven opted out of the case.
Following the Fresno fugitive wanted for murder of Janessa Ramirez
21-year-old Donte Hawkins has been on the run for more than a month -- since Janessa was killed in mid-January. Hawkins left traces of himself in homes in Fresno and Clovis, and then made his way to Sacramento, according to search warrants we uncovered.