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Turlock mother continues to wait for justice
Murder defendant puts halt on plea deal
Cornelio Torres
Cornelio Torres

Ever since Martha Hernandez’s son David Hernandez was gunned down in 2012 she has been praying for strength and peace and to see his killer brought to justice.

Her son was shot on Dec. 31, 2012 outside a relative’s home in the 800 block of South Avenue. He sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died at a local hospital. Hernandez was a family man who had worked for years at Volk Enterprises and had no gang ties.

“I kept asking myself ‘why?’ Why did this happen to my son?” Hernandez said. “He was a good man that never had any trouble. It just broke my heart.”

Hernandez said she prayed for the perpetrator to be caught and she thought it had been answered when police arrested and charged Ernesto Negrete for the killing days after the crime. But when she began to have questions about the man’s involvement she prayed again for God to show her the truth.

“I kept hearing different things about the shooting and it began to raise questions for me,” Hernandez said. “There were just some things that didn’t add up for me and I kept going over the details again and again.”

She believes that her new prayer was answered when new evidence led to the arrest of Cornelio Torres Jr. and a dismissal of the murder charges against Negrete.

“When I heard Ernesto had been arrested I didn’t feel any relief, but when I learned Cornelio had admitted to the shooting I felt a big relief was over me,” Hernandez said. “I felt like I could breathe again.”

Hernandez continued to pray for a resolution to the case and believed that prayer had been answered when Torres agreed to enter a plea of no contest and avoid a trial. But all that came to an end on Tuesday when Torres told a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge he wanted to change his plea and get a new attorney.

“Everything was going along as set then he said he wants a new lawyer and wants to change his plea,” Hernandez said. “It was a big mess today,” Hernandez said of Tuesday’s court appearance.

The investigation into her son’s death and the resulting case against Torres has been particularly hard for Hernandez because Torres and her son were cousins.

“They grew up together,” Hernandez said. “He even came up and hugged me after David died.”

Torres’ request for a new lawyer was turned down, but the matter will be taken up again at a hearing on March 30. The no contest plea that Torres was expected to enter into Tuesday would have him sentenced to prison for 24 years for a charge of voluntary manslaughter.

“The prosecutor told me if he tries to get out of the deal then they will go after him for murder,” Hernandez said. “Either way I will continue to pray that justice comes out of this.”