LANCASTER (WHTM) – A Lancaster man found guilty in a 2002 murder case will continue to serve a life sentence in prison despite his request for relief.
Ricardo Morales, 38, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life plus 10 to 20 years in prison for killing 22-year-old Shalimar Espinosa and wounding Espinosa’s brother in an attempted drug robbery in Lancaster.
Morales recently filed for relief, arguing that three witnesses who testified against him at trial were swayed by “secret” guilty-plea deals.
The Superior Court ruled that Morales’ request was too late and that he was required to file such an appeal within a year of his conviction becoming final.
According to authorities, Morales’ claim that the co-defendants were swayed by plea deals was already vetted by Morales’ prior lawyer and determined to be false.
Morales, along with Roberto Colon and other men, attempted to rob the Espinosa brothers in April 2002. The brothers were shot as they tried to run away.
Colon was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a life sentence plus 18 to 40 years.
Three co-defendants pleaded guilty to third-degree murder; Lazarus DeJesus was sentenced to 9 to 18 years, while Angel Bermudez and Angel Martinez received 12½-to-25-year terms.