By John Burton
FREEHOLD – An Eatontown man pleaded guilty today to killing his estranged wife, a Red Bank woman, in 2011 and attempting to hide the body by burying it along the Garden State Parkway.
Oscar Prior-Ramirez, 33, pleaded guilty in Superior Court to one count of first-degree aggravated manslaughter in connection to the death of his wife Viridiana Beltran-Gomez, 26, who was living on Bank Street, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Prior-Ramirez admitted before Superior Court Judge Richard W. English that he and Beltran-Gomez had gotten into an argument on the night of May 12, 2011, as his wife was leaving work, the now closed Siena Grill restaurant, 141 Shrewsbury Ave. During the argument, he strangled her. Afterward, he concealed the victim’s body in a nearby wooded area. He returned the next day after purchasing a shovel, tarp and concrete and buried her in a shallow grave off of the parkway in the area of mile marker 119 in Aberdeen, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The victim left behind two sons from her marriage to Prior-Ramirez.
The prosecutor’s office, along with Eatontown and Red Bank police, initiated an investigation after the victim’s family members reported her missing.
Investigators discovered the body on June 24, 2011, and arrested Prior-Ramirez the following day. Prior-Ramirez has remained in custody since then, held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold, in lieu of $1.5 million bail.
Prior-Ramirez is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 7 for sentencing, during which time the prosecutor will ask that Prior-Ramirez receive a 27-year prison sentence, subject to the No Early Release Act, requiring Prior-Ramirez to serve 85 percent of his sentence before being considered for parole.
The plea agreement was reached after consultation with, and the approval of, the victim’s family, according to the prosecutor’s office.