Seventeen years ago, Norma Patricia Esparza was raped in her dorm room at Pomona College. Esparza’s boyfriend at the time, Gianni Anthony Van, hunted down Esparza’s alleged rapist, Gonzalo Ramirez, with a group of friends. Ramirez’s body was hacked to death with a meat cleaver and dumped along a road in Irvine, CA. Esparza eventually moved on with her life. She became a well-regarded psychology professor, got married, had a child, moved to Europe.
But Esparza had a secret — she knew what Van had done. Although Esparza said she “did not want Ramirez killed and didn’t approve of violence,” she recently accepted a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for murder. She is expected to receive a six-year prison sentence. Her lawyer said that Esparza wishes she had acted differently, “perhaps by going to the police after she was raped.” Van is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without parole, in July. Esparza’s case will be featured on Dateline NBC on Friday, May 15 at 10pm.