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A Los Angeles area man has been convicted of being a serial killer for a deadly months-long shooting rampage that took the lives of five people in the city and its suburbs.
A jury found Alexander Hernandez, 42, guilty of five counts of murder with special circumstances, 11 counts of attempted murder and other related charges on Wednesday, Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Michele Hanisee told the Los Angeles Times. He has been sentenced to life without parole after prosecutors declined to seek the death penalty.
During the six-week-long trial, jurors heard how Hernandez kicked off his shooting ramping in May 2014 by fatally shooting a stranger, Sergio Sanchez, 35, while they were both driving on the 210 Freeway near the suburb of Sylmar, where Hernandez lived. That same month, he also shot at a 19-year-old who was driving with his girlfriend after prom; that man was left permanently paralyzed.
In August, he killed multiple people during a stretch of seven shootings in a five-day window which again targeting strangers. Gilardo Morales, 59, Mariana Franco, 23, Michael Planells, 29, and Gloria Tovar, 22, died that month.
Prosecutors showed the jurors video evidence depicting Hernandez stalking his victims for several blocks in his vehicle before shooting at them with a shotgun.
“He was hunting for people,” Hanisee told the Los Angeles Times.
Hernandez wounded seven others and opened fire at four more, including two 12-year-olds, in that three-month period.
He also shot and killed multiple pets during his violent spree, and pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges ahead of his trial based on those shottings.
Hernandez was arrested in August 2014 by investigators who called him “serial killer,” CBS News reported at the time.
The now-convicted serial killer had a lengthy criminal history before the deadly spree, including four prior convictions for possession and sale of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a felon, among others.
His case took more than seven years to come to trial because of questions about his mental competency, prosecutors' initial efforts to pursue the death penalty in the case and the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted trials in Los Angeles for 18 months.
Hanisee told the Los Angeles Times that, despite the verdict, the survivors “are still heavily affected. They’re crying. There’s a lot of tears involved. It’s the sort of thing that never leaves them.”
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