Suspect Arrested in 2006 Berkeley Murder

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday February 25, 2009 - 08:02:00 PM

Berkeley police say they’ve solved the three-year-old murder of an El Cerrito student who was fatally knifed at a North Berkeley party. 

Police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss reported that Justin Michael Johnson, 19, has been arrested in South Carolina, where he is awaiting extradition to face one murder charge and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. 

Johnson is the suspect in the murder of 18-year-old Juan Carlos Ramos outside a home on the 770 block of Contra Costa Ave. where a party was being held while the owners were absent. 

Ramos was one of four people stabbed in the Friday night confrontation that occurred just before 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2006. 

Partygoers drove three of the stabbing victims to the Albany Police Department, and from there Albany and Berkeley paramedics rushed the injured youths to Highland Hospital, where Ramos was pronounced dead. 

The fourth victim drove himself to Children’s Hospital in Oakland early Saturday morning. 

As the Daily Planet reported at the time, the party was thronged by between 100 and 150 Albany and El Cerrito high school students who had responded to postings on MySpace, the Internet social networking site. 

Following the attacks, El Cerrito High School Principal Vince Rhea said party invitations had apparently been sent to only a few people, but the house was mobbed after notices went up on the Internet site. 

A more sinister turn of events happened when postings went up on the website urging partygoers to refuse to cooperate with police investigators, hampering the search for the killer. 

“Recently, detectives began reaching out again to witnesses and requested to re-interview them,” Sgt. Kusmiss said in the official police statement released Wednesday afternoon. “Although witnesses were still resistant, detectives were able to gain enough cooperation, which led to Johnson being named as the suspect.”