Date Published:  Thu, 11/29/2007
By Hilary Russ

November 29, 2007
BARNSTABLE — A judge will determine the fate of the man who drove away after his girlfriend fell to her death out of his moving car.

Gustavo Ramirez Jr., 37, of Troy, N.Y., waived his right to a jury trial yesterday, opting instead for a bench trial before Judge Richard Connon in Barnstable Superior Court.

Ramirez is charged with involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping and leaving the scene of an accident in the death of his girlfriend, Katherine Wagoner.

She was riding in the passenger’s side of Ramirez’s car late one Friday night during the 2006 Labor Day weekend. The vacationing couple had drinks in Provincetown and headed back to the nearby Cape Inn Resort, where they were staying, and then decided to get cigarettes. Ramirez drove — erratically, according to witnesses who testified yesterday — along Route 6 at about 45 or 50 mph and then started slowing down.

Wagoner emerged, her back facing out, from the passenger’s side window and placed her hands on the roof of the car, some piece of clothing fluttering in the wind. She then fell or jumped to the pavement.

In the car behind her were Christopher Roberts and his wife, Bethany, who were visiting from off-Cape. The couple pulled over immediately, they both testified, and the husband ran up the road and waved his shirt so passing cars wouldn’t hit Wagoner. His wife, who said she saw Wagoner “bouncing” on the side of the road near the Truro town line, was already talking to a 911 dispatcher as she rushed to her Wagoner’s side.

“She was making this horrible noise. I think she was gasping for breath,” she said. Wagoner, curled up and face down on the side of the road, was bleeding heavily from her ears and was clad only in purple underwear and a shirt. She never regained consciousness and she died a few days later in a Boston hospital after being removed from a ventilator, Assistant District Attorney J. Thomas Kirkman said.

Investigators first believed Ramirez hit Wagoner with his sedan, and then thought he shoved her from the moving car. But during his opening statement, Kirkman admitted prosecutors had “no evidence” to suggest Wagoner was pushed.

Instead, he said, Ramirez and Wagoner had been arguing, and he refused to pull over when she wanted to get out of the car. He never slowed down or came back to the scene.

“This was reckless conduct, of the worst sort,” Kirkman told the court. Blood and broken glass was found inside the car, and blood was on the roof.

J. Drew Segadelli, Ramirez’s attorney, waived his opening statement. But during cross-examination, Provincetown police Officer Michael Carr and State Police Lt. Robert Knott said they had not seen any bruises, scratches, or dried blood on Ramirez’s hands to indicate he had hit Wagoner earlier in the evening.

In a video recording of a police interrogation played in court, Knott built up pressure on Ramirez, telling him repeatedly the evidence at the time didn’t support his story that Wagoner kicked out the window of the car. Ramirez said he pleaded with her not to go out the window, grabbing her pants by the front waistband to try to hold her in the car.

“Why would she jump out the window?” Knott asked.

“She was crazy like that,” Ramirez said several times on the recording.

When questioned about why he didn’t stop the car after she went out the window, Ramirez said he saw her get up and walk to the car behind him, which had pulled over. He also said the shock of seeing her go out the window caused him to urinate on himself, so he decided to change clothes at the hotel and come back to look for her.

The trial continues this morning and is expected to be brief.

Hilary Russ can be reached at

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