Army sergeant gets life without parole for slaying his soldier wife

Maliek Kearney is shown in this Dec. 5, 2011 photo. Kearney traveled to Maryland in August 2015 to kill his wife, 24-year-old Pfc. Karlyn Ramirez.


By CATHERINE RENTZ | The Baltimore Sun | Published: November 1, 2018

BALTIMORE (Tribune News Service) — A federal judge in Baltimore sentenced Army Sgt. Maliek Kearney to life in prison without parole Friday for killing his wife.

Kearney also was sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison for the use of a firearm in commission of a crime. He will be required to pay about $490,000 in restitution to the couple's daughter and his late wife's mother.

Kearney, 37, was convicted in August of the federal crime of crossing state lines to commit domestic violence resulting in death.

U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III said the crime a "heat of the moment" killing. "This was cold blooded and calculated," he said.

Kearney's wife, Karlyn Ramirez, was a 24-year-old Army private stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland.

Prosecutors said Kearney drove seven hours from his home in South Carolina to kill Ramirez Aug. 24, 2015. He shoved a revolver against her body and fired three times: once into her side, twice into her chest. She was shot at point-blank range to muffle the sound. Kearney then placed her baby beside her. Maintenance workers called police after finding an open glass door at her townhouse in Severn.

During Kearney's trial, prosecutors detailed his plan with his mistress, Dolores Delgado, 33, of Florida, to kill Ramirez, cover their tracks and stage her death to look like a sexual assault. Police found Ramirez with her underwear pulled down to her ankles. Their 4-month-old daughter was found abandoned, but unharmed, beside her dead body.

Delgado testified as a government witness. She told jurors she tracked her mileage to help Kearney determine how much gas he would need to drive from South Carolina to Maryland. She bought two 5-gallon gas cans, she said, so he wouldn't have to stop at a gas station and risk being seen. Delgado said she lent him her Nissan Altima, which was less conspicuous than his Jaguar.

She said she later burned his clothes and threw the revolver off a fishing pier in Florida.

Delgado pleaded guilty last year to the same federal crime. She was sentenced in September to 17 years in federal prison for helping Kearney kill his wife.

The judge said Kearney was involved in a relationship not just with Delgado, but also with others at the time that he killed his wife. He said Kearney had "predatory behavior" when it came to women.

Kearney and Ramirez had been married the month before Ramirez was killed, but their marriage was already falling apart. Both had been unfaithful, prosecutors said in his trial.

They said Ramirez wanted a divorce and that she blocked his phone number and sought a protective order from the Army. Kearney was enraged, texting her more than 900 times over two days, prosecutors said.

"I am just getting hulk mad," he texted her.

Teresa Walen, Kearney's attorney, pleaded with the judge for a sentence of less than life, saying that Kearney served four tours of duty in the U.S. Army, including one in Pakistan and three in Iraq. She said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from injuries he incurred while serving in Iraq.

She also described a childhood of abandonment in Philadelphia, where Kearney grew up between foster homes.

Kearney spoke before the sentencing, telling Ramirez and her family that "I know the pain and heartache that you feel," and that he loves and misses his wife.

Russell said Kearney had seven hours to think about what he was doing while driving from South Carolina to Maryland before he killed his wife. It was "plenty" of time to turn around, he said. He told Kearney that he showed no sign of remorse for his conduct and that his words about his late wife "ring hollow."

"I don't believe you," Russell said.


Tim Prudente contributed to this report.
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Karlyn Serane Ramirez was found dead of gunshot wounds on Aug. 25, 2015, in Maryland. A Texas woman pleaded guilty Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, to helping Ramirez's husband, Sgt. 1st Class Maliek Kearney, kill his wife.

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