Man gets 30 years for murdering nephew in Glenwood Springs
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Ninth Judicial District Judge Daniel Petre sentenced Jesus Hernandez de Jesus to 30 years in prison Tuesday, saying he’s both the executioner and the pillar of his family that attorneys and family members described.
“Mr. Hernandez, besides being a father figure and a family man, could also be a very brutal man,” Petre said.
Hernandez de Jesus, 34, originally from Acapulco, Mexico, won’t get to watch his kids grow up or participate in their lives. He’s left a son so distraught that he had to repeat first grade. His wife doesn’t know how she’ll make ends meet. And there’s a sister who said Friday Hernandez de Jesus “was like the pillar of our home, and when he fell our entire home fell.”
Petre described those less obvious victims and the punishments that fall beyond the realm of the legal system.
“Without a doubt [Hernandez de Jesus] was an important person in both his immediate and extended families,” Petre said, adding Hernandez de Jesus came up with money, a place to live and a job in the U.S. for the nephew he later shot to death.
Hernandez de Jesus pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and admitted shooting to death his 20-year-old nephew, Ricardo Navarrete Prudencio, at the Ponderosa Cabins in West Glenwood Springs on June 25, 2007. He was arrested the next night after an investigation headed by Glenwood Springs Police.
Hernandez de Jesus sobbed uncontrollably and begged for forgiveness during Friday’s sentence hearing. Police said Hernandez de Jesus was seeking revenge for an affair his wife had with his nephew, but public defender Garth McCarty contested that notion. Hernandez de Jesus’ wife said Friday she was raped and that Navarrete Prudencio did it by threatening to choke her baby to death. She also said Navarrete Prudencio was involved in gangs, drugs and violence and liked to go by his gang name ” “Fantasma” ” meaning ghost.
District Attorney Martin Beeson argued she concocted the rape story to avoid her husband’s wrath and that it’s unreasonable to think someone would beat their wife for getting raped. Both sides disputed a prior attempted murder charge in Florida that wasn’t prosecuted. Beeson said it was because witnesses disappeared, but McCarty said it was a case of mistaken identity.
Beeson had asked for the 48-year maximum prison sentence, and McCarty asked for the minimum 16-year sentence. A presentence investigation report recommended 24 years. As he did through most of Friday’s hearing, Hernandez de Jesus kept his head tilted down upon hearing the sentence. He wore gray and white striped jail garb and handcuffs.
Petre said Hernandez de Jesus followed his wife from Florida to Nebraska, where police confirmed he once beat her and left her by the side of the road.
“That pattern of going after a person he felt wronged him and lashing out was something he repeated with his nephew,” Petre said.
Petre found that a heat of passion argument the defense used to ask for a lesser sentence didn’t apply. He said there was enough time between learning about the affair or rape and committing the murder for “the voice of reason and humanity to be heard.” Hernandez de Jesus shot his nephew about four months after the incident.
McCarty had argued that Hernandez de Jesus happened to spot his nephew in Glenwood and tried to perform a citizen’s arrest with a gun he thought was unloaded, accidentally shooting his nephew because he mistook a cell phone in his hand for a weapon.
But Petre said that argument of self-defense is “simply not supported by the facts and defies common sense.”
The first bullet went through Navarrete Prudencio’s torso and out the back, causing him to double over. The second passed through the bill of his cap and hit his stomach. The third hit his femur, causing him to fall to the ground. Then, after a moment of hesitation, the fourth shot was fired into Navarrete Prudencio’s vital organs while he lied helpless on the ground. That sequence of events brings things into sharp focus, Petre said.
“He went out and he bought a gun, he located [Navarrete Prudencio], and he completed his objective,” Petre said.
Hernandez de Jesus will also get five years of mandatory parole. He already has credit for 294 days served in jail. He must also undergo DNA testing and pay standard fees and court costs. Prosecutors have a 90-day period to ask for financial restitution.
Outside the courtroom, Beeson said, “I am disappointed in the sentence, and it will certainly affect the way we look at these types of cases and other serious cases in the future.”
Beeson said the crime was first-degree murder with penalties of life in prison to the death penalty. The only reason he offered the second-degree murder plea bargain was because witnesses, many of them from outside the U.S., were already disappearing and he didn’t want Hernandez de Jesus to get off completely free. He said Hernandez de Jesus should be deported after he serves his prison sentence.
“This was an execution ” no question,” he said.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
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