The Turlock man accused of gunning down his cousin opted to not withdraw from his plea deal and went forward with his sentencing Wednesday.
Cornelio Sanchez Torres Jr., 35, entered a no contest plea to a charge of voluntary manslaughter with an enhancement for using a gun in the Dec. 31, 2012 death of David Hernandez. Torres was sentenced to 24 years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution and fines of more than $40,000. In exchange for the plea, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office dropped the murder charge.
Hernandez was shot outside his grandmother’s home in the 800 block of South Avenue. He sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died at a local hospital. Initially Ernesto Negrete was arrested and charged with Hernandez’s murder, but additional information led to Torres being identified as the shooter. Torres and Hernandez were cousins.
Torres had originally been set to enter into his plea on March 22, but told the judge he wanted to change his plea and wanted new legal representation. After a brief hearing Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Frenchie Reeves ruled his legal counsel of Clifford Tong and Benjamin Rosenstein, from the public defender’s office, would remain in place. She ordered the case back before the court in one week.
On Wednesday Torres, accompanied by his attorneys, told the court he was prepared to enter into the plea deal.
Torres made a statement to his family in Spanish, but did not acknowledge or speak to Hernandez’s family, which were sitting in court. Torres has made no public statement about why he shot his cousin.
Hernandez was a longtime employee at Volk Enterprises and had no gang ties. He was married to Silvia Cabrera and left behind three young children.
“We can continue living our life the way my husband would want us to,” said Cabrera. “It will still be hard at times, especially for my younger children. But knowing Cornelio is behind bars eases our pain a little bit. It still isn't enough time though. I believe it should be a life for a life. That's what we really wanted.
“It still saddens me to see the hurt in my kids’ eyes when they see other kids with their dads,” Cabrera continued. “But they know he's always with them. Our last Christmas together was the best Christmas. My husband asked me if I knew why it was the best and I said I didn't know because we didn't exchange gifts for each other. He just looked at us with the biggest smile and said it was because he had us and he was happy. I'll always cherish our memories together. We miss him very much.”