Reedley Man Sentenced to Death for Killing Two Farm Workers
Hernan Rodriguez, 29, of Reedley was sentenced to death Friday in a Tulare County courtroom for the 2015 murders of two co-workers in a Dinuba plum orchard.
“The families of the victims have waited for this day. Today, these hard-working grandfathers received justice. I know much has been said about the status of the death penalty in our state. Despite the governor’s stance, it is still law.” — Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward
On the morning of May 20, 2015, in an orchard off Avenue 400 and Road 74 in Dinuba, Rodriguez hid behind a van, took a soldier’s stance, and fired seven shots at six men on the ground, according to court testimony.
One 57-year-old victim died at the scene. A 65-year-old victim was rushed to the hospital, where he lost brain activity and was taken off life support about two weeks later. A third victim, who was shot through the stomach and arm, recovered after multiple surgeries and more than three months in the hospital.
“The families of the victims have waited for this day. Today, these hard-working grandfathers received justice,” Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward said in a news release. “I know much has been said about the status of the death penalty in our state. Despite the governor’s stance, it is still law.
“In this case, the decision to seek the ultimate punishment was warranted. These were victims of an act of workplace violence deliberately committed by the defendant. I hope and pray that today is a new step in their families’ path towards healing.”
Ward’s comment on “the governor’s stance” referenced Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 2019 moratorium on executions.
Rodriguez, Gun, Quickly Located
Officers from the Dinuba Police Department and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office arrested the fleeing Rodriguez shortly after the shooting. A police canine located the gun stuck in the branches of a tree later that day. Rodriguez used a sawed-off 9mm semi-automatic rifle in the killings.
On Jan. 8 of this year, a jury convicted Rodriguez on two counts of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of multiple murders and the use of a firearm, three counts of attempted murder with the use of a firearm with the special allegation of great bodily injury, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury returned a verdict of death on Jan. 29.
Rodriguez is the 15th man convicted in Tulare County now on death row.
Related Story: DA Smittcamp: Newsom Death Penalty Moratorium Is a Disgrace
Investigation and Prosecution Team
Sgt. Hector Rodriguez of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office investigated the case.
Senior deputy district attorneys Noell Niayesh and Mitch Niayesh were the prosecutors.