King County prosecutors on Wednesday charged a 46-year-old transient with second-degree murder in the brutal beating of a homeless man, who had been sleeping under a freeway overpass in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood before he was attacked.
A second suspect, who goes by the street name “El Oso” — Spanish for “The Bear” — remains at large, according to charging documents.
Ceasar Jesus Rafaela-Conde, known on the streets as “El Comandante” (Spanish for “The Commander”) and who also goes by the alias Javier Guerrero, is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail in the beating death of Alvaro Ruiz, a 54-year-old day laborer from Mexico who was killed Sept. 28, according to jail and court records.
“The defendant and his accomplice subjected the victim, Alvaro Ruiz, to a brutal, prolonged, unprovoked and ultimately fatal beating,” King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Baird wrote in charging documents. “Autopsy revealed that this beating caused injuries to his brain, facial fractures, fractures of the ribs and the sternum, and internal bleeding.”
Police say Rafaela-Conde only stopped beating Ruiz “because he feared he had broken his hand,” charging papers say.
Another man who had been sleeping near Ruiz under the Fourth Avenue South underpass told police he awoke around 1 a.m. on Sept. 28 and saw two men he knew as El Oso and El Comandante chase Ruiz, who ran south on Fourth Avenue South, the papers say. Ruiz’s body was found later that morning under a blanket near Fourth Avenue South and Edgar Martinez Drive South, according to Seattle police.
Around 1:40 a.m. on Oct. 20, Seattle police received a 911 call from someone who claimed to be with a man involved in a murder, charging papers say. Police responded to the intersection of Rainier Avenue South and South Bayview Street, where they arrested Rafaela-Conde, the papers say.
Times columnist Danny Westneat wrote about Ruiz’s slaying.