2021 | Courts

Silver Spring man convicted of murdering man in June 2020

Victim had been spending time with killer’s ex-girlfriend

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A Silver Spring man was convicted Wednesday of killing a man in the Fairland area more than a year ago, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Denzel Kasaka, 23, stabbed Jose Augusto Ruiz, 20, to death on June 14, 2020, Montgomery County police have said.

Ruiz was with Lucya Ramirez on June 14, 2020, around 10 a.m. when he went inside a gas station in Silver Spring, according to the indictment memorandum.

Ruiz got a call from Kasaka, who had been trying to contact Ramirez, his ex-girlfriend. After Kasaka and Ruiz talked, Kasaka sent messages from Ramirez’s Instagram account to make it seem as though the messages were coming from Ramirez.

“Kasaka was acting jealous and was clearly upset that the two were spending the day together,” the memorandum states.

Later that day, Ruiz and Ramirez went to her home, and as they drove into the neighborhood, Kasaka was leaving the neighborhood, according to the indictment. Ramirez sent a text message to Kasaka letting him know she was home. Ramirez and Ruiz then went to his grandmother’s home, according to the indictment.

Kasaka continued sending threatening messages through Instagram to both Ruiz and Ramirez, and eventually Ruiz brought Ramirez back to her house around 10 p.m., according to the indictment.

When they got to Ruiz’s house on Avonshire Drive in Fairland, they stayed in their vehicle.

Kasaka then drove into the neighborhood, and stopped in front of the vehicle Ramirez and Ruiz were in, according to the indictment. When Kasaka got out of his car, he and Ruiz got in a fight while Ramirez screamed and tried to break it up. Neither Ramirez nor Ruiz had weapons.

Ruiz broke the back window of Kasaka’s vehicle during the fight. Kasaka then drove away “several feet,” stopped and got out of his car with a knife, according to the indictment. Kasaka then stabbed Ruiz twice in the abdomen area and once in the heart.

The fight and stabbing were recorded by a security camera nearby.

Ruiz bled “profusely” while Ramirez helped him back to his vehicle and Kasaka drove away. Witnesses called 911.

When officers got to the scene, they found Ramirez in the passenger seat, screaming and covered in blood. Ruiz was unconscious and had knife wounds. He was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. A medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, according to the indictment.

Ramirez, who was initially hysterical, talked to police later in the evening and identified Kasaka as the suspect, according to the indictment. She said Kasaka had stalked her and Ruiz throughout the day on social media.

Kasaka was initially charged with first-degree murder following the killing. However, on Wednesday a jury convicted him of second-degree murder.

Steve Chaikin, an attorney who represents Kasaka, told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday that he argued Kasaka acted in self-defense.

“My client was pushed and chased and was trying to defend himself,” he said.

Chaikin said he thinks the surveillance video that captured the fight, and was entered into evidence, was “heavily considered” by the jury.

State’s Attorney John McCarthy said in a statement that Kasaka is a threat to the community and his office will seek a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 18.

Chaikin said Kasaka is considering an appeal, but is preparing for sentencing in the meantime.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com