Zimmer decries parole for convicted murderer

Sep. 22—Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer on Friday denounced a decision last month by the California Board of Parole Hearings to grant release to a man convicted more than 14 years ago of second-degree murder and other charges.

The board concluded Aug. 18 that Jose Hernandez no longer posed a current and unreasonable risk to public safety. He is not to be paroled to Kern and is prohibited from being in the county while on parole, according to a news release from Zimmer’s office.

When he was convicted on Feb. 23, 2009, the release said, Hernandez was also found guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence with prior convictions, driving on a suspended license, felony child abuse and speed contest with injury. He was sentenced to 15 years to life plus 8 years in prison.

The release said Hernandez, who had seven prior DUI convictions and a blood alcohol level more than double the legal limit, was racing at at least 72 mph when he ran a red light at the intersection of Stockdale Highway and Fairway Drive, striking a vehicle and killing Barbara Blair. Hernandez’s 2-year-old daughter, riding unsecured in his vehicle, received facial injuries that required extensive stitching.

Zimmer said in the release she remembers the case well.

“I am very disappointed that the Board of Parole Hearings chose to parole this killer who inflected such pain and suffering for so many,” she stated, adding, “I wish that members of the Parole Board stood for election and were directly accountable to voters.”

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