A jury found Antonio Hernandez Jr. guilty in the stabbing of Baldemar I. Garcia III on Tuesday, taking less than 30 minutes to give the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Towards the end of the trial Tuesday morning, the jury heard from both the victim and Justin Hernandez, Antonio’s younger brother who participated in the assault and is currently serving a five-year sentence.
The victim said the Hernandez brothers were often found outside their home partying, trying to entice others to come to their home on Seabreeze, “like a spider’s web,” he said.
Garcia said he did not associate with the Hernandezes.
Garcia was walking home with a beer, when Justin Hernandez called out to him to ask him about the $5 he said Garcia owed him. When Garcia denied owing Hernandez money, the younger Hernandez began to chase him. Garcia was able to elude Justin Hernandez, but stopped as Antonio Hernandez began to apologize for his brother’s comments. Garcia said the older Hernandez sucker-punched him and assaulted him as he tried to escape.
In the process of the pursuit, the Hernandezes and their mother, Norma Broquet, participated in a chase, Garcia said. At one point, Broquet had Garcia pinned by her vehicle, and in the end, drove her sons from the scene of the stabbing, outside of Garcia’s grandmother’s house on Lucero Street, Garcia said.
Justin Hernandez took the stand and said he and Garcia had known each other for years and had drank together and smoked marijuana together on several occasions. He said that he participated in the assault after Garcia had sucker-punched his older brother with a beer can. Justin said he was the one who committed the stabbing and his older brother was the one who pulled him away from Garcia to end the assault.
Justin Hernandez said the only reason he was in court was to finally have a chance to tell his side of the story.
“He’s a grown man, if he did it, he should take the blame,” Justin Hernandez said.
Following the guilty verdict, during the sentencing phase, Assistant District Attorney Homero Canales told the jury that Antonio Hernandez did not respect the jury’s judgment. Canales said Antonio Hernandez was sorry he was caught and convicted, and he was afraid of what his sentence might be.
Canales pleaded with the jury to do the right thing and go for the maximum sentence.
Defense attorney Ricardo Soliz said his client had suffered and had multiple injuries from an accident.
Soliz also spoke of the death of Hernendez’s mother last year, and the fact that both of his brothers are in jail.
“Look at him, I think he’s been punished enough. He’s suffered enough. I don’t think he’s going to do anyone any harm anymore,” Soliz said. “Give him the least amount of time, because he’s not going to hurt anyone anymore.”
“His brother got five years, but he didn’t do the stabbing, in his face, in his eyes, his back,” Canales said. “Is this a guy you want on the streets?”