San Antonio (AP) - The 17-year-old beauty queen who claimed pageant organizers harassed her about her weight before stripping her of the Miss San Antonio title has won her courtroom fight to get it back.
Domonique Ramirez claimed she was unfairly booted in January after pageant officials accused her of gaining weight and told her to "get off the tacos." Pageant officials insisted weight wasn't the issue and that the teenager violated her contract with conduct unbefitting a beauty queen.
A Bexar County jury deliberated 11 1/2 hours before siding with Ramirez on Thursday. Judge Barbara Nellermoe then restored Ramirez's crown, according to court Clerk Grace Montalvo.
"She won 100 percent," her attorney, Luis Vera Jr., told The Associated Press.
However, a top pageant official says she will do nothing to help Ramirez advance to the Miss Texas and Miss America crowns.
"I'm sorry, there's no way I would represent her as talent. She's trouble," pageant director Linda Woods said.
Woods testified during the weeklong trial that the size-2 teenager showed up to a bikini photo shoot overweight and made pictures "unusable."
But she told jurors it wasn't adding a few inches to her figure that cost the 5-foot-8, 129-pound college student her crown. Instead, she said Ramirez violated her contract by being chronically late for events or not showing up, not writing thank-you notes for gifts, and embarrassing the pageant board by turning down vocal coaching from an opera singer.
Woods said giving Ramirez the crown back was "an injustice for the city of San Antonio."
"It allows young kids to breach contracts and violate authority without any consequences. ... It sends the wrong message," she said.
Ramirez denied gaining weight or being late.
Immediately after the trial, Ramirez went to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church to place the crown on its altar as a gift to the patroness.
"She's the queen of all queens, the keeper of all crowns. I wanted to give my crown to her," Ramirez said, adding that she could buy a replacement crown for the upcoming Fiesta and Miss Texas appearances that go with the title. "I just wanted to send a message I'm very grateful and she has answered my prayers."
Asked if she had any advice to other young women, Ramirez cautioned them to always carefully read any contract they sign and, she added jokingly: "Don't go eating tacos in the morning."
Pageant attorney Ben Wallis told the San Antonio Express-News that the verdict would cause confusion and that the Miss Texas pageant could refuse to invite Ramirez. He declined to say if the pageant would appeal, only saying that it has "contingency plans."
However, Vera, Ramirez's attorney, said the verdict gives Ramirez the right to participate in the Miss Texas pageant.
Jury foreman Jesse Sanchez told the Express-News that the verdict was "a hard decision" and that jurors found interest in the case "overwhelming." He declined to say why damages and fees weren't awarded to Ramirez.
There was no immediate word on what would become of Ashley Dixon. Ramirez's runner-up was crowned Miss San Antonio in a courtroom last month after a judge refused Ramirez's efforts to obtain a temporary injunction stopping the pageant from naming a new winner.
Judge Nellermoe suggested that community donors provide college scholarships for both Ramirez and Dixon.