Lawyers ask jurors to spare killer death penalty
Attorneys for convicted murderer Fabian Hernandez tried to prove to jurors
Tuesday that he has been a model prisoner and therefore deserves a life
Prosecutors have argued that Hernandez, convicted in killings in New
Mexico and El Paso, is a continuing threat to society both in and out of
prison and should be put to death.
An El Paso jury last week convicted Hernandez, 34, of capital murder in
the shooting deaths of his ex-wife, Renee Urbina Hernandez, and her friend
Arthur Lee Fonseca on Nov. 3, 2006.
Colleen McCarney of the New Mexico Corrections Department also testified
that Hernandez was sentenced to 4 years in prison for voluntary
manslaughter. Hernandez was convicted in the 1993 killing of a 17-year-old
boy in Anthony, N.M. Police at the time said Hernandez shot the victim in
the throat at close range.
During questioning by defense attorney Edy Payan, McCarney testified that
Hernandez served most of his sentence at a minimum-security prison camp in
Fort Stanton, N.M. Because of his good behavior, he was often allowed to
go home on weekends and to work at a nearby lumber yard, McCarney said.
Prison officials also allowed Hernandez to play on a community softball
league sponsored by the Ruidoso Parks and Recreation Department.
But in May 1995, Hernandez tested positive for cocaine after a weekend
visit home. Prison officials initially took away all his privileges, but
allowed him to return to work after 6 months. In April 1996, they allowed
him to play softball again.
McCarney said there was no evidence in Hernandez's file about gang
involvement. Under cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney John
Briggs, McCarney acknowledged that at that time, prison officials did not
keep records of inmates' gang affiliations.
Prosecutors say Hernandez is a member of the Barrio Azteca prison gang. As
evidence, they pointed to letters, drawings and other correspondence found
in his cell. Among the items found were the Barrio Azteca creed and a key
to deciphering coded letters.
In previous testimony, Robert Gonzalez, a detention officer at the El Paso
County Jail, said he saw Hernandez head-butt another inmate twice in 2007.
The bleeding inmate declined to pursue charges against Hernandez.
The penalty phase of Hernandez's trial continues today in 346th District
(source: El Paso Times)