|For Immediate Release
Case # 06CF0633
May 18, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
MAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING JEWELRY SALESMAN WITH MOTHER AND STEALING HIS CACHE
*Mother sentenced to 25 years to life in same case
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to 25 years to life in state prison for plotting with his mother and murdering a Santa Ana jewelry salesman while robbing him of his cache. Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez, 27, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury April, 4, 2012, of one felony count of first degree murder.
Diaz-Nivarez’s mother and co-defendant Rebeca Nivarez, 47, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury Feb. 1, 2011, of one felony count each of first degree murder and second degree robbery and was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison on April 29, 2011.
Mario Hernandez, 78, was a jewelry salesman who would periodically go to Los Angeles to re-stock and return with a few thousand dollars worth of jewelry to sell to people he knew. On the night of March 17, 2005, he told his granddaughter that he needed to get up early the next morning to meet a client. When the victim did not return home that night, his family members became worried and filed a missing person’s report with the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD). The family also contacted the victim’s cell phone company and learned the last numbers dialed from his cell phone was to Nivarez’ phone number on March 18, 2005. Nivarez was an acquaintance of Hernandez. SAPD initially investigated the case as a missing person’s case.
On March 18, 2005, Nivarez robbed Hernandez and murdered him with the help of her son Diaz-Nivarez. Nivarez pawned several pieces of jewelry that were forcibly taken from the victim at numerous Santa Ana pawn shops after the murder. The next day, Nivarez asked her daughter to hold some of the jewelry she took from the victim and fled the area.
Approximately a week after his disappearance, Hernandez’s van was found abandoned at Pavion Park in Mission Viejo. Although the van had not been burned, the officers smelled gasoline throughout the interior. As a result of the discovery of Hernandez’s abandoned van, SAPD began investigating the case as a homicide. Hernandez’s body was never recovered.
Police arrested Nivarez after more than a year-long investigation. Diaz-Nivarez fled to Mexico and was later extradited by Mexican authorities back to Orange County.
During the sentencing today, the victim’s granddaughter, Adriana Rodriguez, gave a victim impact statement to the court and described the depression, anxiety, and devastation that her family has experienced as a result of Hernandez’s murder. She said that her family would have liked the opportunity to bury her grandfather and give him a headstone so that they would have a place to visit.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.