WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - A Waynesboro man has pleaded guilty to accidentally killing his sister in what a prosecutor called “the most tragic case I’ve worked on in my career.”
In November of 2019, the Waynesboro Police Department responded to a report of a shooting in the 700 block of Ridgewood Rd.
Police found 19-year-old Yesenia Ruiz dead with one gunshot wound from a rifle. They said she had been accidentally shot by her brother, 21-year-old Cesar Filipe Ruiz.
Ruiz was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, unlawfully discharging a firearm in an occupied building and reckless handling of a firearm.
In March, he was indicted on involuntary manslaughter and reckless handling of a firearm.
According to Commonwealth’s Attorney David Ledbetter, Ruiz pleaded guilty to both charges on June 10. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but all five years were suspended.
According to Ledbetter, Ruiz was home on leave from the Army and he decided to demonstrate to his siblings how he had been trained to clear a room and how to change the magazine in a rifle.
There were three family members on a bed in the room, including Yesenia Ruiz and another sister who was doing her makeup.
Ledbetter says Cesar got his own AR-15 style rifle from underneath his mother’s bed, along with two magazines for it. He slipped one in his back pocket and checked the other by placing it into the weapon and pulling the trigger with the rifle facing the ground.
However, according to Ledbetter, Cesar did not check the second magazine, believing them both to be empty.
As he demonstrated for his siblings, he pulled the second magazine out of his back pocket, placed it into the rifle without checking it, turned the gun to the corner of the room as he continued his demonstration, and pulled the trigger. Yesenia was in that corner of the room. It turned out the second magazine was loaded and Cesar accidentally shot her in the face, killing her almost instantly.
Ledbetter called the case tragic, saying there was no ill will in the slightest and that Cesar and Yesenia had been extremely close. However, he still violated several principle rules of firearms in his reckless handling.