Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
March 19, 2010
Susan Kang Schroeder
DAY LABORER FACES TRIAL FOR
MURDERING BOSS WITH SHOVEL AND PICKAXE DURING LANDSCAPING JOB
SANTA ANA – A day laborer faces trial Monday for murdering his boss by repeatedly hitting him in the back of the head with a shovel and a pickaxe in the backyard of an Irvine home where they were working on a landscaping job. Ernesto Hernandez Avalos, 27, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday, March 22, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Department C-39, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On the morning of Jan. 29, 2007, Avalos is accused of working as a day laborer for landscaper Woo Sung Park, 45, in the back yard of a residence on Woods Trail in Irvine. The defendant is accused of having worked for the victim on a few other occasions prior to this date.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., the defendant is accused of becoming angry with Park because the victim was complaining about Avalos’ work productivity. When Park turned his back, Avalos is accused of taking a shovel and hitting the victim in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground. Another day laborer heard a struggle and came around the corner to find the victim laying face down on the ground. The witness went to the front of the house and found someone to call 9-1-1.
While Park was on the ground, Avalos is accused of continuing to hit him in the back of the head with the shovel. He is accused of hitting the victim five or six times. Officers from the Irvine Police Department arrived at the scene and ordered Avalos to drop the shovel. Avalos is accused of dropping the shovel, grabbing a pickaxe, and using the butt of the axe to hit Park again.
Officers used less-than-lethal force to subdue the defendant. Park was pronounced dead at the scene due to blunt force trauma.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.