For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE FOR STABBING-MURDER OF TEEN AT HALLOWEEN HOUSE PARTY
SANTA ANA – A gang member was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for the stabbing-murder of an 18-year-old man at a Halloween night house party. Steven Salvador Hernandez, 20, La Habra, who was a minor at the time of the crime and prosecuted as an adult, was found guilty by a jury May 17, 2012, of one felony count of second degree murder and one felony count of street terrorism with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity.
Co-defendants Rene Antonio Lobos, 17, who is charged as an adult, and Jose Francisco Nuno, 22, both of La Habra, are each charged with one felony count of murder and one felony count of street terrorism with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison. Both co-defendants are scheduled for a pre-trial Nov. 9, 2012, at 8:30 a.m., in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Between 11:00 p.m. and midnight on Oct. 31, 2009, Nuno is accused of starting a verbal altercation with the friend of 18-year-old victim Joshua Mora-Rodriguez, who was not a gang member, outside a La Habra home during a Halloween party. During the altercation, Nuno is accused of beating the victim with his fists and Lobos is accused of beating the victim with a baseball bat while Hernandez stabbed the victim’s neck with a knife.
The defendants ran back into the house and left the victim to bleed to death on the street. La Habra Police Department officers arrived and noticed the victim’s blood on Hernandez’s clothing and found a bloody knife wrapped in blood-soaked clothing at a neighbor’s home. Lobos and Nuno are accused of having the victim’s blood on their clothing and were arrested at the scene. Hernandez was arrested approximately a few weeks later.
The victim had just graduated from high school and was preparing to join the Army. He was the son of two police detectives.
During the sentencing today, Mora-Rodriguez’s mother, step-father, and uncle gave victim impact statements to the court describing the heartbreaking loss of Mora-Rodriguez. The victim’s mother tearfully explained that, despite working as a police detective and frequently working with murder victims, she never expected to be the one losing her son. She also said that she felt sorry for the defendant’s parents because they didn’t look after their son and raise him to be a better man instead of a murderer.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Duff prosecuted this case.