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Letter to judge: family of slain Princeville couple asked suspect not to be given plea deal, though it was

Peoria County, IL (HOI) – In a letter to the Peoria County judge, the family of Susan Brill De Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron asked that Matthew Roberts not be given a plea deal for his connection to their deaths.

Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron

Susan and Antonio were brutally beaten in their Princeville home in October 2018 by their adoptive son, Jose Ramirez. Their wrapped bodies were found days later in the Spoon River. Matthew Roberts was arrested for allegedly helping Jose.

When the family was informed that Matthew Roberts was negotiating a plea deal to drop one count of first degree murder, they wrote a letter to the judge to explain the type of people Susan and Antonio were. They were fighting for Roberts to be charged in both their murders, not just one.

“This family opposes the plea agreement and urges the Court to reject it based on the viciousness of the crimes, lack of remorse and utter contempt displayed by the defendant [Matthew Roberts], the vulnerability and innocence of the victims, and the other points detailed below”.

Julio Barron tells Jenise Rebholz that Susan and Antonio, whose birth name is Anthony, that the two met at Bradley University, where they both worked. Julio says they adopted because they wanted to help an underprivileged child.

Antonio Ramirez Barron

“Anthony and Susan were hardworking tax payers who led a peaceful existence in rural Princeville. They wanted nothing more than to raise an underprivileged foster child so that he would have an opportunity for a happy, healthy, and productive life”. Jose was adopted at 7-years-old, according to Julio.

Barron Family

“Anthony, whose sense of identity was defined by his enduring commitment to his family, was an imperfect man trying to leave the world a little more perfect”.

Barron Family

“How was Anthony’s life imperfect? He loved and cared for the very child who would eventually murder him and his wife. He was blinded by the utter love and unfailing support that he extended to him. In fact, during the severe 2017 Illinois winter, we invited Anthony to our home in Arizona to spend a few days in the desert warmth and enjoy a newly constructed pool. He informed us that he could not because he had to look after his son Jose and ensure that he was driven to and from school and work. Susan, at one point, had dreams that her son would be selected to attend a service academy and sought help on obtaining a congressional nomination”.

This letter was ultimately to tell the judge not to accept Roberts’ plea deal.

Julio (left), Antonio (Right)

“The plea agreement that the State’s Attorneys Office and Roberts is that with a dismissal to one count of first-degree murder, Roberts will plead guilty to one count of first degree murder. With these underlying facts, it is hard to grasp how justice is served when Roberts is being extended to the opportunity to evade criminal liability for the murder of one of the victims”.

“This family wonders which of the two lives is unworthy of  a finding of guilt and rendering of a sentence?”


Jose was found guilty for two counts of first degree murder, Matthew Roberts pleaded guilty but mentally ill to one count of first degree murder. Roberts was sentenced to 60 years in prison.


Though the plea agreement was accepted, Julio Barron says he’s ultimately happy that justice is served to both Jose Ramirez and Matthew Roberts.




Jenise Rebholz

Evening Anchor, Heart of Illinois ABC

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