SPRING, Texas — Ramon Sosa knew his 2015 divorce was acrimonious, but he had no idea the extremes to which his soon-to-be ex-wife, Maria “Lulu” Sosa, would go to see him out of her life forever.
Sosa said he didn’t want to believe that his wife and business partner hated him enough to want him dead. Once the reality hit, though, he said his disbelief turned into anger, sadness and confusion.
"And then it hit me that I still had to live under the same roof with the person planning to have me murdered," Sosa said. "Yes, I slept with the enemy and with one eye open, all while trying to act as 'normal' as possible so Lulu would continue with her plan. Keep in mind, that was the only way we could catch her in the act."
The Courier of Montgomery County reported in October 2016, when Lulu Sosa pleaded guilty to the crime, that authorities became aware of her plot in the summer of 2015, when an acquaintance of the Sosas went to police and said Lulu Sosa had asked him to find someone to kill her husband.
Court records show that an undercover police officer posing as a potential hit man met with Lulu Sosa in a sporting goods store parking lot on July 20, 2015. Sosa offered the man $2,000 to kill her husband, along with her husband’s truck after the deed was done.
The officer asked if she wanted him to beat up Ramon Sosa.
“No, I want him dead,” Lulu Sosa responded.
Two days later, the officer contacted Lulu Sosa and told her he had committed the murder but that he needed to meet with her again before leaving town. Meeting in the same parking lot, he showed Lulu Sosa gruesome photos.
Unbeknownst to his wife, Ramon Sosa had worked with police to stage several death photos showing him lying in a shallow grave. Makeup and fake blood were used to mimic a gunshot wound to his head.
"It was chilling, utterly and indescribably chilling," Ramon Sosa told The Sun. "That picture, to this day, reflects one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. The thought of me lying in a shallow grave in my underwear with a bullet hole through my temple is mind-boggling."
Click here to see the photos staged by Ramon Sosa and law enforcement, courtesy of the San Antonio Express News. Warning: The photos may be graphic to some viewers.
Sosa told the newspaper his parents and children were on his mind as he posed for the photos. He worried about how seeing the images would affect them.
"My daughter Mia still has a hard time looking at that picture," Sosa said. "She knows that it's staged but it reminds her that it could have really happened if Lulu had gotten her way."
Lulu Sosa believed she had done just that, according to an arrest affidavit. When she met the undercover officer to pay him and see proof of her husband’s death, her response was as chilling as the photos themselves.
Sosa shook the fake hit man’s hand and smiled, the affidavit said.
Watch Inside Edition's segment on the case below, including footage of Lulu Sosa's reaction to her husband's supposed murder. Warning: Some images in the video may be graphic for some viewers.
Ramon Sosa told the television program "48 Hours" last year that he and his wife, who married in 2009, had a good relationship, at first. She was by his side in 2010 when the former professional boxer opened a second gym. Lulu Sosa, a Mexico native with children of her own, became a personal trainer at the gym.
There were soon cracks in the relationship, however. Mia Sosa told "48 Hours" her stepmother wanted little to do with her new stepchildren and began driving a wedge between them and their father.
Six years into the marriage, Lulu Sosa was telling friends her husband had become lazy and abusive. The accusations included spousal rape, according to the "48 Hours" transcript.
"She's tried everything to ruin my life, from rape, being abusive to being a drunk," Ramon Sosa told correspondent Peter Van Sant. "And all these claims, not one of 'em, not one, have I been charged for.
“I tell you, sir, that these hands -- I’ve never hit a woman in my, in their lives. These have always been for fighting in the ring and not even in the streets, not even in the streets. For her to say something like that, that was really hurtful.”
Around the same time, Ramon Sosa said, he started noticing money missing from the gym's accounts.
"After we start having problems at home with the marriage, there was issues with the gym," Sosa said. I'm working people out a lot more and I see new faces all the time. But when I see the bottom line here, it's not adding up."
Sosa said he soon learned where some of the cash might have gone. His wife had hired a divorce lawyer, Julio Joglar.
Joglar told "48 Hours" his client came into his office with photos of scratches on her body that she said her husband had inflicted during an argument.
"Lulu was in fear for her safety," Joglar told the TV show.
Ramon Sosa, who denied the abuse allegations, said the couple remained in the same home, despite the pending divorce. They lived on different floors of the house, he said.
In June 2015, a mutual friend, who spoke to "48 Hours" using the name Mundo, said he overheard Lulu Sosa talking to her 16-year-old daughter about a supposedly influential gym client who had connections to hit men. Mundo said he was stunned when he heard them mention Ramon Sosa's name.
He said he confronted Lulu Sosa the next day, at which time she repeated her allegations of spousal abuse.
"She's, like, 'I'm tired. You know, I'm tired of him. It's already too much, you know?'" Mundo told the TV show. "'I wish he'll disappear. I wish something, you know?' And I'm, like, 'Disappear? What do you mean, disappear? Like what? Disappear?' And I did the pistol sign."
Mundo said he knew Lulu Sosa was serious because of her eyes.
“I’ve seen that look before, just people that are serious about what they’re saying,” he said.
Mundo said he thought quickly. He said he offered to find a hit man for her, but instead he went to Ramon Sosa and told him his wife wanted him dead.
Though he was shocked, Ramon Sosa said he understood why his wife was seeking a hit man.
"If I died after the divorce was finalized, she was not gonna get the money that I have for my retirement," he told "48 Hours."
The men bought disposable phones and began a sting to gather evidence so police could get involved, the TV show said. Meanwhile, Ramon Sosa said he started sleeping with a loaded gun under his pillow at night.
Once Lulu Sosa had given Mundo a down payment to buy the gun for the hit, the men went back to police. Lt. Mike Atkins, of Montgomery County's Precinct 3 Constable’s Office, became involved in the investigation.
Atkins, who told "48 Hours" the murder-for-hire plot was the first of his career, said detectives kept Mundo involved in the case so Lulu Sosa would not become suspicious. Mundo set up a meeting between the suspect and an undercover officer.
Lulu Sosa gave the supposed hit man $500 in cash and several watches and jewelry as a down payment on the murder.
Atkins explained that they had enough evidence at that point to arrest Lulu Sosa but were concerned her claims of abuse could hinder the prosecution. They needed more evidence of her intentions, he said.
That’s when they determined they should give Lulu Sosa proof of her husband’s murder. They began planning a grim photo shoot.
"Being a bunch of middle-aged men, we don't, you know, we're not exactly versed on applying makeup," Atkins said with a laugh. "So, naturally, we went to YouTube and learned how to apply makeup from teenage girls."
They also used photos of homicide victims provided by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
"The assistant D.A. was there, and he brought out some pictures of actual dead people -- people with bullet holes through their heads," Ramon Sosa told "48 Hours." "They picked out the one that they thought that was gonna be the best one."
Investigators used a county-owned right of way as Ramon Sosa’s “final resting place,” Atkins said. Sosa stood on the plot of land where the fake grave had been dug and pointed out where he lay for the photos.
"My head was there in that corner right there," Sosa said. "It looked like I had my hands tied. They even threw dirt on my head. It looked like a movie scene, honestly."
Watch body camera video of Lulu Sosa's arrest below, courtesy of "48 Hours."
Atkins said that, when the undercover agent met with Lulu Sosa for the second time, video of the meeting was recorded. The officer told her he’d killed Ramon Sosa as Sosa had left for work that morning.
He then showed her the images of her husband lying in his grave. She was quiet as she looked at the cellphone photos.
Atkins said Lulu Sosa laughed when the undercover agent told her Ramon Sosa had fought for his life.
"He won't wake up anymore," Lulu Sosa said at one point, again laughing.
All told, she paid the undercover agent $3,000 and gave him the watches and jewelry and her husband’s white pickup truck in exchange for the hit.
Lulu Sosa was arrested the next day at the couple’s gym, an encounter that was caught on an officer’s body camera. She spent 15 months in jail before pleading guilty to a reduced charge in October 2016.
Her plea deal let her avoid a possible life sentence.
Ramon and Mia Sosa told "48 Hours" that 20 years in prison is not long enough for the trauma their family was put through.
Joglar, the divorce attorney, told the TV show his client did not get justice.
"Nobody got to hear her side," Joglar said. "Many times, I saw her crying. I felt her desperation."
Lulu Sosa, who is being held in the Cristina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville, was denied parole at her first hearing in October 2017.
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