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Sep. 18—A Santa Maria man on Friday pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge in connection to the shooting death of a 33-year-old man in front of 805 Tacos in 2019.
Juan Carlos Hernandez, 31, appeared in person before Judge Patricia Kelly in Santa Maria and entered a plea of guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the Oct. 6, 2019, shooting that killed Jose Alberto Medina.
Additionally, Hernandez pleaded guilty to a sentencing enhancement of personally using a firearm to commit a felony.
Hernandez faces up to 21 years in state prison, including upper sentencing terms of 11 years for the manslaughter charge and 10 years for the enhancement.
The guilty pleas were a result of an agreement with prosecutors that reduced Hernandez's charges. He originally pleaded not guilty on Nov. 6, 2019, to murder and five enhancements, including using a firearm to commit great bodily injury.
Hernandez walked into court shackled and wearing a white collared shirt. He wore an N95 mask due to COVID-19 health orders. His black hair was bunched in a ponytail and a dark beard protruded from the sides of his mask.
Medina's family members observed the hearing via Zoom. Kelly asked Hernandez if he agreed to plead guilty to the shooting that killed Medina.
"Correct, yeah," he said.
Officers responded to a report of shots fired in the 1000 block of West Main Street shortly before 3:30 p.m. and located Medina, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds and later died at Marian Regional Medical Center, according to a Santa Maria Police spokesman.
Hernandez fled to Mexico and was later arrested in the city of Guadalajara, then brought back to Los Angeles where he was taken into custody by Santa Maria Police Department detectives on Oct. 18, 2019, according to Sgt. Alfredo Ruiz, adding the department received assistance from the U.S. Marshal's Office.
Matthew Speredelozzi, Hernandez's public defender, requested that the judge recommend his client be housed in a section of jail where inmates receive more programming and resources, but Kelly declined and deferred that decision to sheriff's officials.
Hernandez is scheduled to reappear for a sentencing hearing at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 15 at Superior Court in Santa Maria.