[UPDATED] Rebeca Nivarez Found Guilty of Murder Despite No Victim Body, Her Son's Trial Is Next

UPDATE, FEB. 1, 4:35 P.M.: 46-year-old Rebeca Nivarez of Garden Grove was convicted today of robbing and murdering a Santa Ana jewelry salesman whose body was never found. A jury agreed the mother plotted the crime with her 25-year-old son, Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez of Santa Ana. He faces the
same charges as his mother; his jury trial is scheduled to begin May 2.

Mama was found guilty of
one felony count each of first-degree murder and second-degree robbery.
She could get up to 25 years to life in state prison at her
scheduled March 11 sentencing.

ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 25, 8:59 A.M.:
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.

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 below 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
May 2.

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
on May 2, 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

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

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