Ramirez later retracted his confession, claiming a case of mistaken identity, and he did everything possible to delay the onset of the trial, which saw him charged with 14 murders and 31 other felonies that related to his killing spree.
He changed his legal counsel a number of times, and the geographical spread of his attacks also complicated the scope of the trial with jurisdictional issues, so that some charges were dropped in order to expedite what was becoming a long journey to justice. Almost three years after his apprehension, on 22 July 1988, the jury selection process began, and the case took a full year to hear, given the number of witnesses and sheer amount of evidence. During this time Ramirez attracted a large following of black-clad Satan worshippers who appeared daily at his trial, and his own nonchalant behaviour further unsettled the jury. Yet another delay occurred when one juror was found murdered on 14 August 1989, but rumours that Ramirez had orchestrated her death proved unfounded and, on 20 September 1989, the jury finally returned a unanimous guilty verdict on 13 counts of murder, 5 of attempted murder, 11 of sexual assault and 14 burglary charges. On 7 November 1989 Ramirez received 19 death sentences, to which he responded:
"No big deal. Death always comes with the territory. I'll see you in Disneyland." Following sentencing Ramirez was transferred to Death Row at San Quentin State Prison.