San Antonio, Texas, July 19, 2016: Yesterday, 437th District Court Judge Lori Valenzuela sentenced Jose L. Hernandez, age 59, to 40 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Earlier this year, Hernandez pled no contest to Felony Murder.
In August 2013, Hernandez was fleeing the scene of a minor crash on General McMullen, when he struck and killed 25-year-old Gilbert Ramos who was crossing the street. Witnesses told police Hernandez was driving at a high rate of speed and had ran two red lights before he hit Ramos. During Monday’s sentencing hearing, one witness tearfully described how she first noticed Ramos dragging a laundry basket as he approached the intersection of Wallace and General McMullen. As Ramos crossed General McMullen, she heard the sound of a car traveling at a high rate of speed and then witnessed the impact. She said that all she could see was smoke from the truck and clothes coming down like it was raining. She ran towards Ramos, held his hand, and prayed over him until he passed away. Witnesses to the deadly hit and run followed Hernandez and detained him shortly after the impact. They said Hernandez had stopped to close his hood that had been damaged by the impact. Under questioning by police, Hernandez told investigators that he didn’t realize he had hit Ramos.
Toxicology results showed that Hernandez had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.24, three times the legal limit, when his blood was drawn two hours after the crash. This was the defendant’s 7th DWI conviction. He received his first DWI conviction in 1984.
“Mr. Hernandez’s actions to repeatedly get behind the wheel intoxicated showed a complete disregard for public safety,” said District Attorney Nico LaHood. “Be responsible and don’t make a game time decision, make a plan ahead of time.”
Murder is a first degree felony, punishable by 5-99 years, or life in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine. However, Hernandez’s punishment range was enhanced to 25 years to life in prison because he had previously been sentenced to prison in 2003 and 2010 to prison for DWI. Assistant District Attorneys Jessica Frazier and Joseph Hooker from the DWI Task Force prosecuted the case against Hernandez in the 437th District Court.