A man will spend at least 25 years in prison for the brutal stabbing death of the mother of his children in her east Medford driveway.
Jose Enrique Solis Garcia, 39, was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for the 2017 murder of his longtime girlfriend and mother of his two daughters, Noemi Ruiz, whom he stabbed dozens of times before leaving her in her driveway for family, including her children, to discover.
Solis Garcia avoided eye contact with the more than 20 friends and family members of Ruiz who attended the hearing in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Ruiz was murdered in the early morning of Sept. 11, 2017, in the 2000 block of Hill Way. She was just returning home from her shift at Amy’s Kitchen in White City to pick up her daughters and take them to school when she encountered Solis Garcia lying in waiting for her with a large hunting knife.
An autopsy showed that Ruiz was stabbed 40 times, according a release issued Tuesday by the Jackson County District Attorney’s office.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Terry Smith-Norton praised the Medford Police Department’s work in the case, calling its investigation “the gold standard,” tracing Solis Garcia’s movements from California, to the scene of the murder and back to California.
Detectives noticed a suspicious car on surveillance video captured on North Keene Way Drive near Ruiz’s home. The car was identified as a rental from Shasta County, California, paid for in Solis Garcia’s name. Police arrested Solis Garcia the day of the murder when he returned the rental in Red Bluff, California.
Police said Solis Garcia went to a Walmart in Anderson, California, roughly three hours after the murder, where store surveillance video showed him buying bleach wipes, ammonia and new clothing. The video also showed Solis Garcia wiping down the rental car in the store parking lot, and disposing of bloody clothing in a parking lot trash can. Forensic and DNA tests showed the blood was from Ruiz, according to Smith-Norton.
Detectives also found the bloody sheath of a Bowie knife with a 5.5-inch blade that the store confirmed was sold at Walmart. That clue led police to find surveillance video of Solis Garcia purchasing the weapon at the North Medford Walmart the night before Ruiz’s murder.
Ruiz’ mother, Maria, spoke in court, recounting with the aid of a translator the morning she got “the worst of news.”
One of her sons, who lived with Ruiz, discovered her body in the driveway just before 7:30 that morning.
Maria recounted driving to the home, hoping somehow that what she was told wasn’t true. She ultimately found her daughter bloody and lifeless at the driveway-turned-crime-scene.
“I felt like my heart was pulled out of me in one pull,” Maria said through a translator.
The day before her murder, Ruiz had planned to take out a restraining order against Solis Garcia, said Maria, adding that she too was worried for her daughter.
Solis Garcia had been showing up at her home, church and workplace, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He had previously broken into Ruiz’s home and taken their children’s birth certificates and passports, along with her car keys.
Solis Garcia pleaded no-contest to a single count of murder late last week. While not an admission of guilt, a no-contest plea has the same legal consequences as a guilty plea.
Donald Scales, Solis Garcia’s court-appointed defense lawyer, said his client pleaded in the case to spare his children the ordeal of a murder trial.
The no-contest plea was reportedly because Solis Garcia didn’t remember portions of the attack, according to statements made by Judge Laura Cromwell during the hearing Tuesday. Cromwell expressed doubt about Solis Garcia’s remorse before she sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole until he serves at least 25 years.
“I wish you would’ve given that plea so you could have at least given that family some closure,” Cromwell said.
Cromwell also touched on Solis Garcia’s reported motivation in the crime — an “if I can’t have her, no one can” mentality.
“It’s so despicable that women are treated like disposable property,” Cromwell said.