Counterfeit cash for cocaine led to innocent Fresno man's murder: Police

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Counterfeit cash for cocaine started a chain of events leading to a triple shooting and murder in northwest Fresno in 2017, according to police investigators.

Police say Roberto Ramos was a hard-working man, dedicated to his job and his family, and not involved in criminal activity.

But his son Jacob had a history with Lavale Vean that prosecutors say led to the shooting that injured the son and mother, and killed Roberto Ramos.

Vean knew Jacob Ramos at least since the two of them spent time in a boot camp as teens, but their relationship soured in 2015 when he bought drugs from Ramos using fake money.

Jacob and a friend came looking for retribution not long afterward.

"Jacob told me he had kicked Lavale Vean in the face a couple times," said Fresno police detective Victor Miranda. "They had ripped his pants off, his shoes, and I believe his shirt and they left him there in the alley."

Two years later, Ramos told police he heard Vean was now looking for him, and as he sat in his driveway with his parents one night, he said he saw Vean's familiar face -- armed with a weapon -- running at them.

"And as the person was running up, the person that he'd known was shooting at him," Det. Miranda said.

Jacob said he rushed inside with his mother -- both of them suffering gunshot wounds.

When he went back outside, his father was dead near the street.

Police say Vean wasn't alone, though. They believe two people opened fire, and accomplices were also nearby.

But they've only caught Vean, and they had to go to Texas to get him after he had a chase with police there.

His defense attorney argues Vean isn't the actual killer because bullets from a 9-millimeter handgun killed Roberto Ramos and evidence points to Vean having a 40-caliber gun.

"So the 40-caliber casings were located near the garage door," Det. Miranda said. "And the 9mm were in the street, so in the area where Lavale Vean would've been running, in between the cars, is where the 40-caliber casings were."

Prosecutors say Vean would be responsible for the murder under the felony murder rule even if he didn't fire the deadly shots, and he's charged with two counts of attempted murder as well.

A judge decided Thursday there's enough evidence for Vean to stand trial.
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