Rebeca Nivarez Murder Trial Begins Today, With Her Son Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez's Soon to Follow


Rebeca Nivarez, 46, of Garden Grove, is expected in a Santa Ana courtroom this morning for the start of her murder trial. She and her 25-year-old son allegedly plotted to rob and murder a Santa Ana jewelry salesman whose body was never found.

Like his mother, Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez faces one felony count of murder and a possible maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted. As the Orange County district attorney's office statement on the next page shows, the next court hearing for junior--who had fled to Mexico but was later extradited back to Orange County--is scheduled for Feb. 1. His trial is expected to begin in March.

Jan. 24, 2011

*Son awaiting trial on same charges

SANTA ANA - A mother faces trial Tuesday for plotting with her adult son and murdering a Santa Ana jewelry salesman while robbing him of his cache.  Rebeca Nivarez, 46, Garden Grove, is charged with one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted. Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-38, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendant Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez, 25, Santa Ana, faces the same charges as his mother and his next court appearance will be Feb. 1, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-30. He is expected to face a jury trial in March 2011.

Mario Hernandez, 78, was a jewelry salesman who would periodically go to Los Angeles to re-stock and return with a few thousand dollars worth of jewelry to sell to people he knew. On the night of March 17, 2005, he told his granddaughter that he needed to get up early the next morning to meet a client. When the victim did not return home that night, his family members became worried and filed a missing person's report with the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD). The family also contacted the victim's cell phone company and learned the last numbers dialed from his cell phone was to Nivarez' phone number on March 18, 2005.  SAPD initially investigated the cases as a missing person's case.

On March 18, 2005, the defendant and her son are accused of robbing and murdering Hernandez, an acquaintance. Nivarez is accused of pawning several pieces of jewelry that were forcibly taken from the victim at numerous Santa Ana pawn shops after the murder.  The next day, Nivarez is accused of asking her daughter to hold some of the jewelry she took from the victim and fleeing the area. 

Approximately a week after his disappearance, Hernandez's van was found abandoned at Pavion Park in Mission Viejo.  Although the van had not been burned, the officers smelled gasoline throughout the interior.  As a result of the discovery of Hernandez's abandoned van, SAPD began investigating the case as a homicide. Hernandez's body was never recovered. Police arrested Nivarez after a more than a year-long investigation. Diaz-Nivarez is accused of fleeing to Mexico. Diaz-Nivarez was later extradited by Mexican authorities back to Orange County.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.


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