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Mistrial for Garden Grove Mother/Son Murder Team

It seems that families are spending more time together, although perhaps this kind of mother and son “bonding” is not the kind that the sitcoms portray. And thank goodness. Hopefully these two will be doing time soon together instead of planning more abductions, theft and murder, but it seems there’s a small snag in the justice system.

In Superior Court in Santa Ana on Monday, a jury deadlocked in the trial of Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz, a Garden Grove man charged with helping his mother kill a door-to-door jewelry salesman back in 2005 in order to steal his inventory. Unfortunately, Superior Court Judge Richard F. Toohey was forced to declare a mistrial but at least scheduled a hearing on November 4 to set a new trial date for Diaz, a mere 26.

Why a mistrial? Because after two days of deliberations, the jury panel weighed in at 10-2 in favor of guilty, but all twelve could not agree on the same verdict. It’s not the first time either-actually it’s the ninth time this year that a major trial has ended in a mistrial in an Orange County courtroom because of deadlocked juries. That’s once a month!

Diaz was charged with first-degree murder and robbery for his role in the slaying of Mario Hernandez on March 18, 2008. Hernandez, a 68-year-old man who walked with the assistance of a cane as he sold jewelry door-to-door from his van, may not have chosen the safest sales job in Orange County, but that does not mean that he deserved to be preyed upon by Diaz and his mother, Rebeca Nivarez-Diaz.

Nivarez-Diaz orchestrated the “cold, diabolical plan” to steal Hernandez’s jewelry, according to the court argument of Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin. Nivarez-Diaz had purchased products from him before, which made it easy for her to lure Hernandez into her home on that fateful March day on the pretense that she was going to make a large purchase. Instead of that sale, Hernandez found Diaz waiting for him inside the house.

Hernandez was never seen again after he left his Santa Ana home on March 18, 2005 for the pre-arranged sales call at 7AM, and his body has never been found, making it one of those rare murder cases where there literally is no body…of evidence or otherwise. It could be argued that without a body you can’t pin the murder on Nivarez-Diaz and her son, yet it can’t be a coincidence that she was out pawning Hernandez’s inventory within seven hours of his death. Also, she failed to realize that the last call Hernandez made on his cell phone was to her…

A jury certainly agreed, as Nivarez-Diaz was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery last year and is currently serving a 25 year to life sentence in prison. Diaz faces a similar sentence if convicted in the follow-up trial scheduled for November. It seems hiding out in Mexico for three years after Hernandez’s disappearance didn’t help him escape justice, as the Mexican authorities turned him over to the U.S. for extradition.

Have you been accused of robbery, burglary, or even attempted murder? Have you been accused of a crime you didn’t commit? Call the Law Offices of Glew & Kim immediately on 714-713-4525, or use our online form for a Free Case Analysis. We believe in equal access to justice for all.