The death of a robber in a hail of bullets fired by his accomplices during a home invasion robbery in Hilmar has resulted in a lengthy prison term for one defendant.
On April 13, Merced County Superior court Judge Jeanne Schechter sentenced Jose Hernandez to 54 years to life, plus 10 years for his role in a home invasion robbery. A jury found Hernandez guilty in February 2019 of two counts of first-degree home invasion robbery in concert and first-degree burglary.
According to the court records, Hernandez, along with his co-defendants, William White, Victor Hernandez and Orlando Yepez made a plan to rob the home of Juan Carlos Alvarez.
The four men came to Alvarez’s Hilmar home shortly after midnight on Aug. 1, 2014 in separate vehicles. Alvarez was acquainted with Victor Hernandez, so when he arrived with Yepez that night, Alvarez let them inside.
Alvarez was at home with his girlfriend Gloria Chavez. Simultaneously, Victor Hernandez and Yepez attacked Alvarez, while Jose Hernandez and White came into the home armed with guns.
Jose Hernandez attacked Alvarez with a screwdriver and during the struggle Alvarez reached for the gun in Jose Hernandez's possession. In the struggle the gun discharged, which prompted White to fire multiple rounds.
Alvarez was able to break away and ran into his garage, where he called 911.
When law enforcement arrived, they found Alvarez bloodied from injuries to his hands and back.
Inside the home, Yepez was lying in a pool of blood, dead from one of the bullets fired during the struggle. He was lying on top of an AR-15 rifle, according to the court records.
Investigators found a 9mm and .45 caliber shell casings in the house and a bundle of $1,000 on the grass outside the home.
The Merced County District Attorney's Office presented evidence that Alvarez was selling illegal drugs and that the four men knew he had a large amount of cash in the home. Alvarez told the investigators he had about $12,000 in cash in the home that night.
White was seen fleeing the home with a bundle of cash, the prosecution stated.
Victor Hernandez and White were convicted by a jury in 2017. Victor Hernandez was sentenced to 60 years to life plus 35 years and four months for his role. White was sentenced to 137 years to life plus 96 years for his part.
Jose Hernandez had eluded custody until January 2018.