MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two men charged in an ambush attack on a Hialeah dentist last month entered not guilty pleas during their arraignment Thursday morning.
Ralph Benjamin, 39, and Hector Ledesma, 34, are charged with premeditated attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Carmen Ramirez.
Police believe they know why Ramirez was targeted.
In 2015, she was the victim of identity theft. According to an Orlando police report, the man accused of defrauding her is Ledesma’s brother, Jose Ledesma, who reportedly stole $40,000 from her and her dental office.
Ledesma’s trial is set for this December and Ramirez is the star witness. If convicted he faces three to five years in prison.
Police note that neither Hector Ledesma nor Benjamin lives in South Florida. Ledesma lives in Orlando and Benjamin resides in the US Virgin Islands.
According to Hialeah Police Major Hubert Ruiz, Benjamin was flown into South Florida for the sole purpose of “hunting down Ramirez.”
According to Ledesma’s arrest report, the day after the shooting both men purchased one-way tickets to the US Virgin Islands. They were taken into custody on Thursday, November 21, at Miami International Airport.
On Monday, November 18th, the day before the shooting, surveillance cameras captured Ledesma and Benjamin driving a BMW in front of Ramirez’s dental office at 820 East 41st Street, according to Ledesma’s arrest report.
Ledesma parked at 840 East 41st Street. Both men then got out, walked past Ramirez’s office, and went to a grocery store, according to police.
They reportedly remained inside for several minutes, purchased drinks then left the store and drove away.
According to police, surveillance video on Tuesday showed Benjamin being dropped off by the same BMW and going into the grocery store.
When Ramirez arrived and began going up the stairs to her office, Benjamin came up from behind and shot her multiple times, according to the arrest report. He then ran to the BMW, driven by Ledesma, and they sped off, according to the police.
Ramirez was struck six times, including in her face, neck, and chest. She was taken to the Ryder Trauma Center where she was listed in extremely critical condition.
Ruiz said that Ledesma was a registered sex offender who had served 15 years for an aggravated rape charge in the Virgin Islands. He said Benjamin has an open criminal case involving the possession of a firearm by a felon.