A jury started deliberations Thursday within the trial of a Oceanside probationer accused of choking his girlfriend to dying and dumping her physique.
Hugo Lionel Hernandez, 46, is charged with homicide for the slaying of Katherine Mary Neitzke, 33, of Romoland. He’s accused of leaving her stays alongside the boundary separating Riverside and Orange counties, the place they’ve but to be discovered.
The prosecution and protection delivered closing statements Thursday on the Riverside Corridor of Justice. Riverside County Superior Courtroom Decide Steven Counelis then despatched jurors behind closed doorways to weigh proof from the two-week trial.
Hernandez is being held on $1 million bail on the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
In response to an arrest warrant declaration filed by sheriff’s investigators in January 2022, the defendant and Neitzke had been courting for just below a month when he allegedly killed her on July 26, 2019.
On the time, Neitzke was residing in a barn that had been transformed to a residing area south of Perris. Hernandez was staying along with her.
Neitzke was reported lacking by her sister-in-law within the late summer season of 2019, and the case was initially handled as a lacking individual’s investigation. Nevertheless, inside a number of months, detectives, suspecting foul play, initiated a murder investigation.
A buddy of the sufferer, Andrea Bailey, advised detectives that she had obtained a “frantic name” from Neitzke on the evening of July 25, 2019, throughout which she requested Bailey to select her up on the transformed barn. Nevertheless, Neitzke then advised her buddy that she would name her again, however by no means did, in response to the affidavit.
Within the ensuing months, detectives spoke with different witnesses, culminating in a dialog with Edilberto “Eddie” Avena, who had been courting the defendant’s sister. Avena finally advised sheriff’s Investigator Travis Gilbert that Hernandez had enlisted his help “to do away with” the lady’s physique, in response to courtroom papers.
In response to Avena, Hernandez allegedly admitted manually strangling the lady, saying “she was a rat, and I needed to take her down,” the affidavit said.
Avena went on to explain how he reluctantly helped wrap the sufferer in a carpet and loaded her physique into the again of his Chevrolet Yukon. Investigators allege the witness and Hernandez proceeded to drive towards Orange County through the Ortega (74) Freeway, stopping two to a few miles east of San Juan Capistrano.
Avena defined that he parked his SUV within the hills, and Hernandez and he carried the physique an unspecified distance into the woods, dumping it, in response to courtroom papers.
Adequate proof was gathered to cost Hernandez with homicide and Avena with being an adjunct after the very fact. He pleaded responsible to the felony rely in March and is slated to be sentenced in February. He’s free on a $50,000 bond.
Regardless of a number of makes an attempt to find Neitzke’s stays by regulation enforcement and volunteers, her physique has by no means been discovered.
Hernandez has prior convictions in one other jurisdiction, however prosecutors didn’t supply specifics in courtroom paperwork.
– Metropolis Information Service