MERCED - Three people convicted of killing a 40-year-old man to reap benefits
from a nearly $1 million life insurance policy were sentenced to prison
Tuesday in Merced County Superior Court.
Laura Hernandez, 38; son Erick Camarillo, 21; and Edgar Garcia, 18, pleaded
no contest in August to killing Alberto Rodriguez Macias, 40, on March
14, 2010, near Dos Palos.
Hernandez, the ringleader and the victim’s wife, was sentenced to
15-years-to-life on a second-degree murder charge.
The trio pleaded no contest to the charges in August, as part of a plea
agreement with the prosecution.
Garcia, the triggerman who plugged two bullets into Macias’ head,
received a sentence of 21 years in prison, on a voluntary manslaughter
charge with an enhancement for use of a firearm, according to Chief Deputy
District Attorney Harold Nutt, prosecutor in the case.
Camarillo, who is Hernandez’s son and the driver who took the shooter
to and from the scene, received six years in prison on a voluntary manslaughter charge.
Nutt said the sentences in the case reflect the relative involvement of
each defendant in the crime. Hernandez received the stiffest sentence
because of her role plotting the murder. The triggerman, Garcia, will
be around his mid-30s when he’s eligible for parole. Nutt said the
prosecution also considered his young age (he was 16) at the time of the
murder and lack of a criminal record when making the deal.
Tuesday’s hearing in front of Judge Brian McCabe was brief, and no
one from the victim’s family spoke in court.
Jeffrey Tenenbaum, Camarillo’s attorney, said his client has expressed remorse for
the crime. Before the murder, Camarillo had been a student at UC Merced.
He’ll be eligible for parole in about four years. “He’s
willing to go do his time, getting this behind him and being a productive
citizen,” Tenenbaum said.
Hernandez offered Garcia $5,000 to kill Macias, her husband. Garcia told
detectives that Hernandez’s daughter had become pregnant with his
child – and Hernandez had threatened to abort the baby if he didn’t
agree to kill Macias. The baby was carried to term.
Court documents also indicate Hernandez’s daughter in 2008 accused
Macias of sexually molesting her. The allegations were made to Merced
police in June 2008. Hernandez’s daughter was 14 at the time, and
accused Macias of raping her. But in August 2008 the girl and her sister
recanted the molestation allegations, saying they’d lied. The girl
also told a social worker she’d lied because Macias treated her
During Hernandez’s interviews with detectives, she never admitted
the killing or provided a motive. Other than accusations by Hernandez’s
daughter, Nutt said there’s no evidence Macias molested her.
Deputy Public Defender Chris Loethen, Hernandez’s attorney, said
in August his client pleaded because she faced a maximum sentence of life
without parole, if convicted by a jury. Under the plea agreement, however,
she’ll be eligible for parole in 15 years.
Macias’ body was found March 14, 2010, after sheriff’s deputies
responded to a home in the 7900 block of Azusa Road near Dos Palos. Hernandez
claimed to have found Macias’ body on the floor and had gone to
the home of a neighbor for help. But certain elements of Hernandez’s
story didn’t add up, and the defendants had sent incriminating text
messages to one another leading up to the killing.
Garcia told detectives that Hernandez had given him money to buy a gun,
and that he was driven to the scene by Camarillo. Hernandez’s daughter
was also in the vehicle. Garcia wore gloves and entered the home, detectives
said, seeing Macias asleep on a makeshift bed. Macias woke, yelled and
tried to get up, but, according to authorities, Garcia shot him to death.
The case against Hernandez’s 17-year-old daughter, who is also a
defendant, is being dealt with in juvenile court.