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Man in deadly fight over custody of pit bull facing murder charge

Updated March 4, 2024 - 5:53 pm

A fight over custody of a pit bull dog in Las Vegas ended in the death of a 69-year-old man last summer.

Seven months later, an autopsy by the Clark County coroner’s office revealed that he died of an irregular heartbeat and that the manner of death was a homicide.

The altercation occurred June 11 when Roman Ramirez, 52, showed up unannounced at a home in the 3900 block of Maryland Avenue where his former girlfriend Loretta Seitz lived with her parents, Larry and Irene Vargas, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Ramirez, of Las Vegas, and Loretta Seitz had a signed agreement to share ownership of a pit bull named Luna after breaking up an eight-year relationship in May 2022, police said in an arrest report.

In December 2022, Loretta Seitz’s daughter Adrianna, who had allowed Ramirez to remain on her family phone plan, told Ramirez he needed to start paying his portion of the bill and had until June 10, 2023, to obtain his own plan, police said.

Ramirez took Luna to his home on the weekends while Loretta and Adrianna had the dog on weekdays, based on the police report.

On June 8, 2023, Ramirez sent a message to Loretta Seitz to say he missed the dog and hoped to take the pet home for a visit, and she responded with a “thumbs up,” police reported.

On June 10, Loretta Seitz sent her ex-boyfriend a reminder that he owed them for the phone bill, but he did not return her message, according to police.

The next day, Adrianna Seitz removed Ramirez from the phone plan and then she and Loretta Seitz left the house, telling Loretta’s mother not to open the door if Ramirez came over, police said.

At 5:17 p.m. that day, Loretta Seitz called police to report that her father, Larry Vargas, 69, was unconscious, police said.

About 15 minutes earlier, Larry Vargas noticed Ramirez outside the home and allowed Ramirez to see Luna, but then Ramirez picked up the dog and began walking to a vehicle, according to an investigation by homicide detectives.

Man alleged to have ‘pushed’ victim, causing fall

Irene Vargas told detectives that Larry Vargas ran out after Ramirez closed the vehicle’s passenger door and she saw her husband fall onto the vehicle and the ground, the report said.

The dog got loose and ran toward the house when Larry Vargas yelled at his wife to get Luna back inside. While she tried to get the animal through the front door, she saw Ramirez allegedly punch her husband in the face, causing him to fall back against and break a palm tree, police stated in the report.

Larry Vargas went in the house and asked his wife to try to find his glasses outside, police said. When she located them she returned inside the house to find Larry Vargas lying on a recliner, unconscious, police said.

Medical responders transported Larry Vargas to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center where he was pronounced dead just after 6 p.m., according to police.

Detectives said that Ramirez, after arriving without prior notice, “pushed” Larry Vargas “several times” and caused him “to fall onto the ground into a palm tree, resulting in multiple abrasions to his arm, legs and back,” based on the report.

“Moments after the altercation, Larry was found unresponsive in his residence, which ultimately resulted in his death,” police stated. “Video surveillance corroborated that Roman was the primary aggressor throughout the confrontation.”

Police initially arrested Ramirez later that day on suspicion of battery with substantial bodily harm on an older victim while waiting for the coroner’s findings.

The results of an autopsy led the coroner to declare that Vargas died of cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, and that the manner was homicide, leading police to arrest Ramirez on Feb. 22 on suspicion of murder, according to police.

In Las Vegas Justice Court on Thursday, prosecutors consolidated the case and Ramirez faces charges of murder, battery with substantial bodily harm on an older victim and abusing an older or vulnerable person with death or substantial bodily or mental harm, according to court records.

Ramirez has a preliminary hearing in court scheduled for Thursday, court records show.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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