Suspect in murder and mutilation of man in Fresno County appears in court

Brianna Willis Image
Saturday, April 13, 2024
Suspect in murder and mutilation of man in Fresno County set to be in court

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A young man accused of killing a Mendota man made his first court appearance in the case Wednesday afternoon in juvenile court.

Fresno County Sheriff's deputies made a disturbing discovery back in a car parked in a field near Belmont and Washoe, just west of Mendota in January 17.

"They made the decision to get into the car and once they popped the trunk, they made gruesome discovery of a man who had been chopped up," said Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

The victim was identified as 25 year old Fraylee Hernandez, and last Friday detectives made an arrest for his murder and mutilation. They say both men are from Mendota and were acquaintances.

The suspect was 17 years old at the time of the crime, and turned 18 last month.

He appeared in juvenile court Wednesday, but now the Fresno County District attorney's office has filed a petition to transfer the case.

Attorney and legal analyst Ralph Torres says there are certain factors the court uses to determine whether or not transferring the case to adult court is appropriate.

That includes the sophistication of the crime, the potential for the teen to become a law-abiding adult, and the suspect's criminal history.

The sheriff's office says the suspect is currently on probation for assaulting his mother and is undocumented, originally from El Salvador.

Torres says in his experience, if the suspect is going to face consequences it will be in this state to hold him accountable.

He adds this entire process can take time.

"The transfer hearing can be months away, it depends on how long it takes for the defense to present the case," said Torres.

The sheriff's office hopes eventually justice will be served for the victim.

"If to stab somebody, chop them up, there's a lot of passion and rage behind that, so it's deeply disturbing and to have a man at 17 years old doing this. This isn't somebody we want on our streets, we want him locked up for the rest of his life," said Botti.

Torres says if the suspect is held accountable in juvenile court, he could be released from custody at 25 years old. If he's tried as an adult he could face life in prison.

His next court date is next Monday.

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