Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Man convicted for his role in the burning death of Ontario woman

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A 25-year-old man was convicted Tuesday for his role in the 2011 torture and burning death of Maria Banuelos.

A Rancho Cucamonga jury found Johnny Hernandez (pictured left) guilty of First Degree Murder of Maria Banuelos, with the jury also finding true the special circumstance that her murder was committed during the course or commission of Mayhem, as well as one count of Torture, one count of Mayhem and one count of Arson Causing Death. 

Following the death of Banuelos, investigators arrested four other suspects linked to the brutal attack: 45-year-old Hector Meza of Yucca Valley, 27-year-old Genese Ramirez of Banning, 25-year-old Robert Zapata of San Bernardino, and 30-year-old Johnathan Zuniga of Rancho Cucamonga.

On Oct. 22, 2011, officers from the Ontario Police Department arrived at an apartment complex and found residents administering aid to 34-year-old Banuelos, who was still on fire.

At the scene, the victim identified Hector Meza and three others as her attackers. While in the ambulance her dying words were: “Hector Meza set me on fire. He is abusive and obsessive.”

The Ontario resident was taken to a hospital where she died two days later.

Hours after the attack officers arrested Meza on suspicion of attempted murder.

According to Deputy District Attorney Kent Williams, who prosecuted the case, it was later determined by the coroner that the victim had been hit on the head three times with something consistent with a metal bar prior to being set on fire.

Meza was sentenced Jan. 4, 2017 to Life in State Prison Without the Possibility of Parole.

Zuniga was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison March 24, 2017.

Ramirez is due back in court later this week for a status hearing.

Zapata is scheduled to appear in court for a Pre-Trial Hearing June 29.

Hernandez faces life in state prison without the possibility of parole when sentenced Aug. 31, 2018.

This case was investigated by the Ontario Police Department.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Team Photo: Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Southern California is the largest public awareness vehicle and grassroots fundraiser with more than 3,500 officers in Southern California championing acceptance and inclusion.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is represented in all 50 U.S. states, Canadian provinces and 46 nations with 97,000 officers around the world, raising more than half a billion dollars since its inception in 1981.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run in Southern California is one of the leading programs in the world, raising $1.52 million in 2016 with participants representing 200 law enforcement agencies.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Two men sentenced to life in state prison for attempted murder of a correctional officer

Two men convicted of shooting a corrections officer were sentenced to life in state prison today.

In June 2017, a jury found 36-year-old Anthony Gomez of Riverside, and 29-year-old Christopher Marquez of Riverside, guilty of the 2013 attempted murder, and found true gun and great bodily injury causing paralysis allegations. Marquez was sentenced to 34 years to life and Gomez was sentenced to 38 years to life in prison.

According to Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cecilia Joo, who prosecuted the case, the victim was on his way to work at Chino Prison when he stopped to get gas in the city of Colton.

“The two defendants, who had been drinking at a nearby club, decided to stop at the same gas station,” said SDDA Joo.

They parked their vehicle in front of the victim’s vehicle, which was in the middle of the island. The victim was pumping fuel into his truck, when the defendants started asking him for directions.

“For some unknown reason, defendant Marquez, who was in the front passenger seat, got out and unloaded his six-shot revolver at the victim,” said SDDA Joo. “Marquez then immediately jumped back into the car driven by defendant Gomez and fled the scene.”

Both defendants were later arrested in the city of Riverside by Riverside Police officers.

Immediately following the shooting, Colton police officers were dispatched to the scene and observed the victim motionless on the ground. Despite being shot in the head, the victim managed to show the officers his Correction patches. The officers immediately transported the victim to ARMC where medical staff were standing at the ready for life saving treatment.

The victim underwent a number of surgeries and rehabilitation. He was ultimately paralyzed on his left side and had a metal plate placed in his head. He was unable to walk and speak for months. However, the victim and his wife were present during the entire trial.

The victim has since regained limited ability to walk and speak again.