Tuesday, November 13, 2012
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit described the facts of the crime as follows:
Hernandez was indicted on one count encompassing several crimes, including killing Rosa Rosado (a) as part of a common scheme or course of conduct along with killing two middle school girls in 1994, (b) in the course of an aggravated sexual assault, (c) in the course kidnaping her, and (d) in the course of robbing her. Relating to the common-scheme aspect of the one-count indictment, two middle school girls, Sarah Gonzales and Priscilla Almares, were abducted in San Antonio in December 1994. The next day, their bodies were found in the brush by a road. Both had been sexually assaulted and asphyxiated. An anal swab of Gonzales found sperm, but a vaginal slide found none. A 2001 test showed Hernandez’s DNA was a match.
Relating to the remaining parts of the indictment, Rosado disappeared in San Antonio in March 2001. The facts are in dispute, but according to Hernandez’s confession, while driving with his girlfriend, Abel Abdygapparova, Hernandez, and Santos Minjarez saw Rosado at a bus stop. Minjarez tried to grab her purse, and when she resisted, he pulled her into the car and covered her head, and Hernandez drove away. They stopped at Hernandez’s house to get tape to bind Rosado, gagged her, and went to a motel, where she was raped and killed. Abdygapparova was sent to get a shovel, which was used to bury the body. Hernandez and Abdygapparova took Rosado’s possessions and items used to cover her and burned them or dispersed them by tossing them from the car as they drove after her death.
Two crucial statements were made to police. Abdygapparova provided a written statement of the abduction, robbery, sexual assault, and murder of Rosado. She also led police to the body, the motel where the events occurred, and the car she had sold after using it in the crime. Although Hernandez initially denied participating and asked for an attorney, thus ending his first interrogation, the next day he asked to speak to the detectives again. He gave a statement confessing to participation in the crime but saying it was Minjarez who had raped and killed Rosado.
On March 12, 2002, Hernandez was charged in a four-paragraph indictment filed in the 175th District Court of Bexar County, Texas, with intentionally killing Rosa Rosado on March 31, 2001, by asphyxiation, during the course of committing or attempting to commit the aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, or robbery of Rosado; and the murder of more than one person during different criminal transactions but pursuant to the same scheme and course of conduct, for the murder of Rosado, and the December 16, 1994, murders of Priscilla Almares and Sarah Gonzalez.
Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to death in October 2002 by a jury in the 175th District Court of Bexar County, Texas.
On March 23, 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) affirmed his conviction and sentence on direct appeal.
On September 10, 2008, after the trial court held an evidentiary hearing, the CCA adopted all recommended findings and conclusions, save those regarding the ineffective-assistance-of-appellate-counsel claim, and denied habeas corpus relief.
On May 13, 2011, the federal district court denied habeas corpus relief and a certificate of appealability (COA).
On March 1, 2012, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals also denied COA.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review on October 1, 2012.
Under Texas law, the rules of evidence prevent certain prior criminal acts from being presented to a jury during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial. However, once a defendant is found guilty, jurors are presented information about the defendant’s prior criminal conduct during the second phase of the trial which is when they determine the defendant’s punishment.
During the penalty phase of Hernandez’s trial the State presented evidence that, in 1986, Hernandez (who was a juvenile) was charged with engaging in delinquent conduct for entering a habitation on April 5, 1986, with the intent to commit theft, and was placed on juvenile probation for a year.
On July 18, 1990, Hernandez was convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon a knife with a blade of more than five inches. The charges stemmed from his arrest for felony theft of a vehicle and unlawfully carrying a prohibited weapon, but the felony charge was dismissed.
In March 1991, Hernandez pled guilty to three counts of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit theft, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The first burglary occurred on April 24, 1990, when Hernandez entered a home through a kitchen window while the owner was at work, and stole numerous items from the home.
The second burglary also occurred on April 24, 1990, when Hernandez and an accomplice broke down the door of a home; while Hernandez and the accomplice were attempting to rob the home, a neighbor called the police. Hernandez and the accomplice fled on foot but were later apprehended with items from the burglaries in their car.
The third burglary plea resulted from the January 12, 1991, sexual assault of Anna Marie Diaz. Hernandez, Minjares, and Diaz’s husband, Danny Zapata, went to Hernandez’s apartment to watch a pornographic movie. Hernandez left the apartment, locking the burglar door from the outside so that no one could leave. Hernandez entered Diaz’s nearby apartment through an unlocked door and sexually assaulted her in her bed while her one-year-old child slept beside her. Diaz testified that she and Hernandez had been friends for many years. Hernandez only pleaded guilty to burglary of a habitation.
On March 15, 1994, Hernandez was arrested and charged with burglary after he and Santos Minjares were observed robbing a home. Hernandez led police on high-speed pursuit, ending when he crashed his car in a drainage ditch. The two suspects attempted to flee on foot but Hernandez was apprehended. The charges were dismissed for insufficient evidence.
Two witnesses a high school friend and a San Antonio police officer testified Hernandez did not have a good reputation for being peaceful and law-abiding.
On August 15, 2002, while housed in the Bexar County jail for the present offense, Hernandez placed a make-shift dummy in his bunk and went missing from his cell. Hernandez was later found hiding in another cell where sheriff’s deputies discovered a carved-out hole through cinder block and bricks leading to the parking lot of the facility. Hernandez had also attempted to carve around the commode, and ventilation and intercom systems in his own cell. A piece of steel plate from the intercom system, big enough to be a weapon, was missing. Regarding the incident, Hernandez made the statement, I fooled you too, right.
For additional information and statistics, please go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us.