Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez's mother was sentenced in the spring to 25 years to life in state prison for plotting with her son the 2005 robbery and murder of Mario Hernandez, a 78-year-old Santa Ana jewelry salesman whose body was never found.
Today, a jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting the 26-year-old Garden Grove resident, prompting Judge Richard F. Toohey in Santa Ana to declare a mistrial. The judge also scheduled a Nov. 4 hearing to set a new trial date.
Hernandez would periodically travel to Los Angeles to re-stock his
jewelery collection and sell pieces to his client base. On March 17,
2005, he told his granddaughter he was getting up early to meet a client
the next morning. When he failed to return home that night, his
concerned family contacted Santa Ana Police. The family also discovered
the last number Hernandez made on his cell phone was to Rebeca Nivarez, the 46-year-old mother of Diaz-Nivarez.
week later, Hernandez's torched van was found abandoned at Pavion Park
in Mission Viejo. Detectives meanwhile discovered that Nivarez sold many
of Hernandez's jewelry items to Santa Ana pawns shops before having her
daughter hold onto the rest as she fled the area. Before she could,
Nivarez was arrested, although her son fled to Mexico. A year
later, Mexican authorities extradited Diaz-Nivarez back to Orange County.
A jury on Feb. 1 convicted
Nivarez of murdering Hernandez despite his body never having been found. She
was sentenced in May.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.