On November 9th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments challenging the constitutionality of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences. In preparation for oral arguments, JLWOP: Faces & Cases will be an on-going series on The Foundry that will tell real stories about juvenile offenders who are currently serving LWOP sentences.
Defendant: Adam Sarabia (16)
Victims: John Ramirez and Joann Wotkyn
Crimes: Two counts of first degree murder, residential burglary and auto theft
Crime date: October 21, 2004 in Santa Paula, California
Adam Sarabia broke into a home and bludgeoned and stabbed a man and woman to death before stealing their car. He used their cell phone to brag to his friends about the crime.
John Ramirez and Joann Wotkyn, a couple in their 50s, were asleep in their bed in the early morning hours of October 21, 2004. They lived in a neat two-story house in the city of Santa Paula, California.
Adam Sarabia entered the home through an unlocked garage door. Armed with a baseball bat, he slipped into the sleeping couple’s bedroom and hit them repeatedly times with the bat, aiming for their heads and faces.
Sarabia then went downstairs to the kitchen, where he found a knife, and returned to the bedroom to stab and slash Ramirez and Wotkyn. He left the bedroom, walked downstairs, and took the car keys from Wotkyn’s purse. He drove off in the family car, cruising around town and showing the car off to friends before abandoning it at a shopping center after learning that the bodies had been discovered.
Sarabia also took the victims’ cell phone, which he used to call his friends.
When he was arrested, Sarabia was wearing a sweatshirt that had tiny blood spatters on the sleeves. The blood-stained baseball bat was found in Sarabia’s garage, and the cell phone and a pair of blood-spattered tennis shoes were found in his bedroom. The blood was a match for Ramirez and Wotkyn.
According to the prosecutor, Senior Deputy District Attorney Richard E. Simon, Sarabia showed no remorse for the violent murders:
Sarabia is a pure sociopath who committed two horrific murders against two innocent victims with whom he had no connection. His reaction to his crime was completely unremorseful and cold-blooded. The interview with Sarabia was chilling. He never admitted to the crime, nor did he deny it. He just didn’t seem to care. If I could have gone for the death penalty, I gladly would have. I believe Adam Sarabia is one of the most evil human beings I have ever prosecuted. He is a poster boy for life without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.
Charles D. Stimson is Senior Legal Fellow and Andrew M. Grossman is Senior Legal Policy Analyst in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.