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  • Adult Time for Adult Crime: Ralph David Cruz, Jr.

    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: Ralph David Cruz, Jr., 16.
    Victims: Lucila Bojorquez, Brandon Esquer and Jenny Bojorquez.
    Crimes: Three counts, first degree murder and Armed robbery.
    Crime date: August 4, 2001 in Tucson, Ariz.

    Ralph Cruz, Jr., shot and killed a mother and her two young children after the mother refused to give him her car. He then dumped the children’s bodies in the desert.

    Lucila Bojorquez was the single mother of two children: six-year-old Brandon Esquer and his seven-year-old sister Jenny Bojorquez. On August 4, 2001, all three were in their car in a Tucson apartment complex parking lot, preparing to drive home.

    Cruz, armed with a Glock .40 caliber handgun, approached them, pointed the gun at Lucila, and demanded that she give him the car. She refused. Cruz shot her once in the head and twice in the chest. Cruz then pulled her lifeless body out of the car, got in, and drove off, running over her bloodied body.

    Witnesses notified the police immediately. Police learned that the children had likely been in the car.

    Approximately 30 minutes later, citizens discovered the bodies of two young children at an overlook at West Gate’s Pass in the Tucson Mountains, west of Tucson. The bodies were those of Brandon and Jenny. Both had been shot in the head. There was also a hole in Jenny’s hand, indicating that she had tried to hide her face before Cruz shot her. Several days later, Lucila’s vehicle was found in the desert, missing its tires and rims. Blood, bullet casings, and Cruz’s palm print were found in the vehicle.

    The police circulated recent photos of Lucila’s car before it had been stripped, with its fancy rims and tires intact. Three days after the murders, Cruz’s mother notified police that the tires and rims matched those in her son’s bedroom. A search of the Cruz home turned up the tires and rims, as well as the gun used in the murders. Cruz’s bloodied clothes had been buried in the backyard.

    Prosecutors sought the death penalty, but after the second day of trial, Cruz agreed to plead guilty to all charges if they would relent.

    On January 7, 2002, Cruz received two sentences of life without parole for murdering Brandon and Jenny and a sentence of life with the possibility of parole after 25 years for murdering Lucila, with the sentences to run consecutively. He also received 10 and one-half years (to run concurrently with the other sentences) for armed robbery.

    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.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    24 Responses to Adult Time for Adult Crime: Ralph David Cruz, Jr.

    1. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      The circumstances of this crime more than merit a "JLWOP" sentence. This tragic story deeply saddened and angered me. Overruling this young man's sentence would be a huge travesty of justice.

    2. Albert campbellsvill says:

      If you do something like this you shouldnt be considered a juvenile.Another good reason to guard the border,if not this case then others.

    3. Bobbie Jay says:

      This brings much sorrow. What a pigheaded waste of human being. I believe filth like this is undeserving amongst human life. Prison isn't severe enough for pigs like these!

    4. Coachvcl, Jackson MI says:

      Each case should be judged on its merits, this young man deserves what he got. I worked in the Michigan Department of Corrections, as a special education teacher. I had many youth 14 and 15 year old that were serving adult time for Juvenal crimes. Some were first time offenders. I have trouble with prosecutors and judges who want to look tough on crime to their constituents, but do not take into account the effects of their sentencing. Most of these inmates were good kids who were caught up with the wrong crowd, very little parental supervision, and very little education.

      Lets look at all factors involved, and please lets start spending more in the way of education for all inmates, especially the ones who will be getting out. Remember if they, the inmates, do not have a skill, upon release, than they will go back to what got them locked up in the first place.

      Just my opinion.

    5. Helmetfoot Boston, says:

      To Coachvcl, This isn't the time place or person to discuss those 14, 15 year olds MAY be hurt by a lack of education and sympathy. The facts before you are about this single 16 year old who killed one adult and two children. Worry about those others when they are sentenced. Don't get the rest of us thinking that Cruz needs empathy or sympathy.

      You may have experience in dealing with trying to rebuild their lives. I have had 25 years of dealing with these "juveniles" and with the surviving victims of their atrocities. See them and the victims and you might harden your heart a bit. I guess you have never had to taste your own blood in dealing with them.Maybe you should.

    6. myrna, california says:

      >>>…Cruz agreed to plead guilty to all charges if they would relent.<<<<

      And they relented.

      Criminal wins, we law abiders lose and pay. Isn't that always the case? Sometimes I think, "what the hell, if you can get away with it why not?" Say what you will with that, one thing I will tell you is THAT is the gesture of arms thrown up in the air in surrender! What can I do about it? Nothing!

    7. DONNELL says:

      The death penalty is the only punishment for this crime in question. Being murdered by a juvenal is no less deadly than being murdered by a 40 year old . You're allways fully dead. just ask any murder victim. Then I am not convinced that such so-called juvenals are essential to this world.

    8. Robyn Parker, Auburn says:

      It is long past time to re-visit the concept of "juvenile crime". Any "child" above the age of seven understands right from wrong. A "child" of 16 who murders a mother, takes her children and, with time to think about what he is doing, chooses to murder them in cold blood as well, more than deserves the death penalty. He should be happy that all he got was life in prison. If they ever let this beast out of jail, shame on us.

    9. Corky says:

      I say let's give more illegal's FREE healthcare, food stamps, money to pay rent out of our taxes and when the flood of ILLEGAL's really start pouring in we can maybe offer them early release from jail everytime they want top kill someone. Oh heck, we'll just pardon them for their crimes. What say about that obama, reid, pelosi??? (and the GANG!)Press 1 for spanish…..it's what is coming folks……..

    10. Joe, KY says:

      Supreme Court should have summarily dismissed this without any deliberation. This absolute monster should DIE without delay no matter what his age. Even life w/o parole for such turpitude is a mockery! There are moral abysses that some elements of society enter into that are without redemption. A civilized society has to have the moral fortitude to promptly purge itself of such aberrations without any compunction or remorse or the aberration will become the norm, a cancer that will rot the host. This is pure evil and there is no redemption or should there be. Will be interesting to see how Sotomayor votes.

    11. Bill P says:

      Isn't one of the things seperating our life from that of being animals is a sense of conscience. If an alligator were to kill these people it would be destroyed (or maybe not considering PETA). There would be no question in the rest of the world, only here in free America.

      Animals have no conscience. Cruz obviously is the same!!

    12. Marisa, Pennsylvania says:

      There should have been no deal made for relenting on the death penalty. This piece of filth should have been given the death penalty. He is truly undeserving of human life.

    13. Slick in Nebraska says:

      Are you telling me that a 16-year-old who is old enough to know how get a gun, how to use that gun, try to steal a car, and then kill THREE PEOPLE should be too young to be held accountable for the CHOICES he made to kill those same three innocent people?

      If you ask me there is NO HOPE for a human being that would so callously do something like this to another. They should have given him the dealth penalty to begin with and fixed the problem PERMANENTLY.

      I am sick and tired of having MERCY on the perpetrators . . . what about his victims? Do they deserve a single ounce of consideration either by him or the courts of our country??? It is cases like this that drive me crazy . . . . if this was my daughter and my granchildren, I would want to take care of this person myself because I know positively that somewhere down the road the justice system would surely fail me.

      One can only hope that the very people who are supporting this kind of action are sometime the subject of this kind of victimization. Then they will know EXACTLY what should be done . . . with NO hesitation at all.

    14. Jerry from Chicago says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with Slick in Nebraska.

      I too know what I would do if it were my children or grandchildren.

      When you are dealing with a mad dog, you don't stop to ask how old it is. You don't listen to somebody tell you how the dog was victimized and abused when it was young. You destroy it before it can do further harm.

    15. Ben C, Ann Arbor says:

      Read the book “People of the Lie” by Scott Peck to understand evil in our society. This book changed the way I view evil and those who are evil. I agree that there are those who are in the wrong place at the wrong time but I also know there are those who are pure evil.

    16. Hamilton Lake, MN says:

      Jerry from Chicago, I like your reasoning. Now take it one step further into the political arena.

      Why was the Second Amendment put in our Bill of Rights? (So that we the people could protect ourselves from "Domestic Enemies")

    17. KP langley wa says:

      LWOP. The prisons are full of people with remorse.there are those who have considered their past actions and truly regret how they acted. How do we as a society throw away so many youth?. at what point do we evaluate worthlessness?. What are the standards?. Granted a 16 year old in prison has a slim chance of ever seeing a 50th birthday so why do we waste so much money in not educating anyone who doesen't fit the all AMERICAN MOLD. in being so ready to declare anyone as not one of us. In creating the environment where a 16 year old could feel so desperate if not drug induced to act this way We as a society need to seriously question how our youth are being raised. And to all you haters who try to blame this on a weak border, they never mentioned whether he was an illegal so quit with the close the border or you would probably have not made the grade yourself. Only First Nation people truly can claim infringment.

    18. Russell says:


      This kid needs to meet his maker, now.

      The death penalty will ensure people other

      people will not get the same idea.

      That's why our prisons are over crowded.

    19. Mike Winsauer, Kings says:

      This animal's citizenship(?) notwithstanding, any cry for mercy on the basis of his age is at least misguided and born out of the lunacy of left-thinking liberals (evidence, the above comment from WA) whose sanctimony and clear disconnect from reality cause sane people to want to wretch. Their attempt to make victims of the murderers, and then marginalize the actual dead and injured, defies logic and common sense.

      In the "real world", people must be held accountable for the CHOICES they make. Age can be no determinate when judging such horiffic murder(s). Lets face it, there is evil in this world that must be destroyed. Given the time and a bigger arsenal, who is to say that this miscreant wouldn't have rivaled some of the world's more infamous mass murders.

      My sincere sympathies go to the families of the victims and to the poor mother that gave life to this monster.

    20. dave, dayton says:

      I seem to remember a time when, if such an act of lack of humanity as this were committed, the perp would have been hung within a few weeks. Seemed to work two ways: got this piece of filth off the streets, and served as a damn good lesson! Do the crime, pay the penalty. There is NO question of guilt or "reasonable doubt". If those two children had been my grandchildren, there would not have been a trial. If you can't live in society and obey the big rules, then I say get rid of them.

    21. Linda, WV says:

      Fry him and save us the money for his upkeep.We are talking a woman and two small children here – not animals! For a car?

    22. Mary, Tucson, AZ says:

      It was wrong of him to do what he did because it involved a mother and her two children. Were all humans and we all make mistakes. If it was ur family member who did this crime, I'm sure you would stick by their side no matter what. You might also think that your family member would deserve a 2nd chance at life, right? This man is no monster, beast, or whatever you want to call him. This man is a human being just like the rest of us. Each and every one of us can do the things he did, if you really wanted to. How would you feel if you were in his position? How would you feel if people were saying to get rid of your family member, loved one, etc.

    23. bobby molina says:

      i went to jr. high with Ralph,and he did what he did and i think he should do all the time he got no matter what because if that was family member that was the victem you would want them locked up too right?

    24. A CRUZ says:

      I came upon this and read through putting myself in both the mothers shoes as well as Cruz. We are put on this earth with our lives already planned out who what where and why we leave is in gods hands. Thou shall not kill !!!!! Plan words mean everything two wrongs don't make a right….

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