Erik Ingebretsen

Erik Ingebretsen • Murdered July 16, 1997 outside of Colusa

The family of Erik Ingebretsen is exhausted, but hopeful. 

After two days of a resentencing hearing for his killer – the result of juvenile justice sentencing legislation – they are preparing themselves for the judge’s decision, expected today (Friday).

Ingebretsen was 16 years old on July 16, 1997, when he was brutally murdered by his two friends, Nathan Ramazzini, 17 at the time, and Leopoldo Contreras, 19 at the time.

“It was hard seeing Nathan after 21 years, but we all made it through together, as a community,” Ingebretsen’s sister, Devin Lombardi, said in a Facebook message Thursday.

Senate Bill 9, enacted in 2012, allows prisoners convicted as juveniles who have served at least 15 years of a life sentence to petition the court to be resentenced. The original sentencing court can decide if a lesser penalty is warranted. The law only applies to convicts who were 18 or under at the time of sentencing.

Ramazzini’s petition for resentencing recalled his original life sentence without parole until Judge Jeffrey Thompson makes a ruling. He can choose to resentence Ramazzini to life without parole, or 25 years to life. He was originally sentenced in July 1998.

Colusa County Deputy District Attorney Brendan Farrell said that Thursday was the gap day, when the judge would finish reviewing evidence and documents (including the original case file, positive or negative behavior in prison and a psychological evaluation). On Friday, prosecutors and defense will make closing arguments before the judge hands down the sentence.

Lombardi said after two decades, Ramazzini still could not say ‘I’m sorry,’ which goes to show he is not remorseful, making rehabilitation impossible. She said she poured her heart and soul for months into writing the victim impact statement she read Wednesday.

“I’ve never felt so empowered than after giving my victim’s impact statement,” Lombardi wrote. “I know that Erik was with me. He gave me strength.”

According to Appeal-Democrat archives, Ingebretsen was murdered in a wooded area along the Sacramento River outside of Colusa. The Colusa High School junior had finished working a late shift at Holiday Market and found Ramazzini and Contreras waiting in the parking lot. Ingebretsen got in the car with his friends who drove him to a secluded area along the river. Once there, Ramazzini and Contreras beat and stabbed him. 

Ramazzini and Contreras confessed to the murder after being taken into custody the day after Ingebretsen was reported missing. Ramazzini was identified as the main conspirator during the trial. 

Contreras was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, according to archives. He was released on parole last month, Farrell said.

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