Life without possibility of parole for slayer of Mirna Regollar

January 19, 2001
Santa Paula News

It is life in prison without the possibility for parole for Alfredo “Freddy” Hernandez, sentenced Tuesday for his role in the murder of a Santa Paula storekeeper in June 1998.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesIt is life in prison without the possibility for parole for Alfredo “Freddy” Hernandez, sentenced Tuesday for his role in the murder of a Santa Paula storekeeper in June 1998.Hernandez, 23, a gang member who had moved to Santa Paula from the Los Angeles area, was quiet as Superior Court Judge Ken Riley handed down the sentence in the shooting death of Mirna Regollar, a 25-year-old Oxnard resident and aspiring nurse who died during a botched midday robbery at Junior’s Market, located on Oak Street. Regollar was shot twice after Hernandez and Jose “Pepe” Castillo, saw her activate a silent alarm in the tiny neighborhood market. Regollar was the mother of two small children and had been studying nursing at Oxnard College while trading shifts at the store with her husband, Eligio Regollar.Hernandez’s attorney, James Farley, vowed to appeal the case after asking Judge Riley for a new trial.The case against Hernandez hinged on testimony from Castillo, who admitted planning the robbery to get drug debt money.Farley had argued that there was no physical evidence linking Hernandez - who at the time of the murder was living Castillo’s garage just a few blocks from Junior’s Market - to the crime.Castillo, in a plea bargain agreement with prosecutors, testified that Hernandez fired first at Regollar, striking her in the head. Castillo fired second, hitting the woman in the back before running from the market and leaving the cash behind.Witnesses against Hernandez included Castillo’s ex-girlfriend, who said that Castillo confessed to the crime - including Hernandez’s participation - and a former friend now in the witness protection program.
Hernandez proclaimed his innocence in a two-page, hand-written note to Judge Riley dated Jan. 1, noting his guilt was limited to making bad choices in his friendships. He also wrote that Castillo is a liar who implicated Hernandez to save his own life by avoiding the death penalty.Santa Paula Police investigators developed a source who implicated Castillo and Hernandez; an unexpected bonus was further information that linked Castillo to the 1993 stabbing of 17-year-old Jesse Strobel, a Ventura High School football player who was murdered on his way home from his night shift at his father’s beach area pizzeria.Castillo and Hernandez were arrested - Castillo also on charges related to the murder of Strobel - in April 1999, but Hernandez was initially released due to a lack of evidence. SPPD investigators were undeterred and finally developed the case against Hernandez in the Regollar slaying.Castillo, who was only 15 at the time of the Strobel murder, was sentenced to a juvenile facility for the crime; he later cut a deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty in the Regollar case.“It was a tragic situation all the way around the jury weighed the evidence, deliberated and came to the guilty verdict, which is no surprise,” said SPPD Commander Mark Hanson. Witnesses were believed by the jury which found their testimony consistent, he added.“We’re glad the police department is able to move beyond this case and focus on other homicides that need attention,” said SPPD Sgt. Carlos Juarez, one of the SPPD detectives who helped break the Regollar and Castillo cases. Those SPPD detectives who had investigated the Regollar murder - and the slaying of Strobel - were in court on Jan. 16 to hear Hernandez’s sentence.From the beginning, Regollar’s family publicly stated that they did not want the death sentence for her murderer due to their religious beliefs.Castillo should be sentenced later this week.

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