|For Immediate Release
Case # 07HF0244
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
DAY LABORER SENTENCED TO 26 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING BOSS WITH SHOVEL AND PICKAXE DURING LANDSCAPING JOB
SANTA ANA – A day laborer was sentenced today to 26 years to life in state prison 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, 28, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury March 25, 2010, of one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon.
On the morning of Jan. 29, 2007, Avalos was working as a day laborer for landscaper Woo Sung Park, 45, in the backyard of a residence on Woods Trail in Irvine. The defendant had worked for the victim on a few other occasions prior to this date.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., the defendant became angry with Park because the victim was complaining about Avalos’ work productivity. When Park turned his back, Avalos took a shovel and hit 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 continued to hit him in the back of the head with the shovel. He hit the victim a total of five or six times. Officers from the Irvine Police Department arrived at the scene and ordered Avalos to drop the shovel. Avalos dropped the shovel, grabbed a pickaxe, and used 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 prosecuted this case.