A jury has found a 27-year-old Santa Ana man guilty of plotting the robbery and murder of an elderly jewelry salesman whose body was never found.
After being convicted on one felony count of murder, Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez faces the same since his momma received in April 2011: 25 years to life in state prison.
On the night of March 17, 2005, 78-year-old Mario Hernandez told his granddaughter he needed to get up early the next morning to meet a client buying jewelry from him. When Hernandez did not return home the next night, his family called Santa Ana Police to file a missing person's report. The family also contacted Hernandez's cell phone company and discovered the last number he dialed on March 18, 2005, belonged to Rebeca Nivarez, 47, of Garden Grove.
Hernandez's van was found abandoned at Pavion Park in Mission Viejo the following week. Although it had not been burned, officers smelled gasoline throughout the
interior. What had been a missing person's case was now being investigated as a homicide.
Detectives discovered several pieces of Hernandez's jewelry had been pawned at shops throughout Santa Ana. It was also uncovered that Ms. Nivarez had her daughter hold some jewelry for her before she fled the area.
After a yearlong investigation, Nivarez was arrested for robbing and murdering Hernandez. By then, Diaz-Nivarez had fled to Mexico, but he was later extradited back to the U.S. His mother was convicted, but there was a hung jury in Diaz-Nivarez's first trail last September.