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 mother badly.
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.