[UPDATED with Sentence:] Rebeca Nivarez Found Guilty of Murdering Jeweler Despite No Victim Body

Categories: Crime-iny
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UPDATE, MAY 3, 4:35 P.M.: 46-year-old Rebeca Nivarez of Garden Grove has been sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison for robbing and murdering Mario Hernandez, a 78-year-old Santa Ana jewelry salesman whose body was never found.

A Santa Ana jury on Feb. 1 agreed the mother plotted the crime with her 25-year-old son, Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez of Santa Ana. His trial on the same charges is expected to start later this year.

The victim's daughter, Nancy Rodriguez, and granddaughter, Adriana Rodriguez, delivered victim impact statements before Superior Court Judge Daniel B. McNerney handed down his sentence, the Orange County Register reports.

"I would like to have my father's body so we can give him a proper burial, so we can visit his grave, and give him flowers and spend some time with him," Nancy Rodriguez reportedly said. ". . . I would like to know where my father is."

"I constantly have nightmares about my grandfather's murder," Adriana Rodriguez is quoted as telling the judge. "I dream that I look for him but I am unable to find him. . . . I want to be able to put him to rest and give him a proper burial."


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.

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Diaz-Nivarez
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 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 later this year.

Jan. 24, 2011

MOTHER FACES TRIAL FOR PLOTTING WITH ADULT SON, MURDERING JEWELRY SALESMAN AND STEALING HIS CACHE
*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 later this year
.

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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