VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A Visalia jury recommended Wednesday that a Reedley man be put to death for the 2015 double murder of two men in a Dinuba orchard, according to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.
Hernan Rodriguez, 29, approached coworkers at a plum orchard off Avenue 400 and Road 74 in Dinuba on May 20, 2015, during lunch and used a highly modified, sawed-off 9mm semi-automatic rifle wrapped in duct tape, and fired seven rounds in rapid succession at six men seated on the ground, spokesman Stuart Anderson said.
A 57-year-old victim died at the scene from a gunshot wound to the head, the DA’s Office said. A 65-year-old victim was rushed to the hospital, where he lost brain activity after a day and was taken off life support about two weeks later.
Anderson said a 60-year-old victim was shot through the stomach and arm, and miraculously survived multiple surgeries and over three months in the hospital.
Rodriguez immediately fled but was taken into custody a short time later by Dinuba Police and Tulare County Sheriff’s deputies.
A police K9 unit later found the gun in the orchard, stuck in the branches of a tree.
Rodriguez’s trial began on October 28, 2019 at the Tulare County Superior Court in Visalia and the jury convicted him of two counts of first-degree murder on January 8, 2020, Anderson said.
The conviction included 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 felon in possession of a firearm, he added.
The DA’s Office said Rodriguez possesses a 2008 strike for street terrorism in Fresno County. He is slated to be sentenced on April 17.
“The jury’s recommendation of death is still legal in California. Voters have continually shown their support of this penalty, including those here in our county,” said Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward. “The victims, in this case, were hard-working grandfathers who provided for their families in more ways than one. That their lives ended in an act of workplace violence is a tragedy. We will fully encourage the court to confirm the jury’s recommendation at sentencing.”