A man who evaded arrest for almost 13 years was ordered Thursday to stand trial for the brutal killing of a Ukiah man in August 2000.
"It's a relief" to finally bring the suspect to justice, the victim's brother, Dan Williamson, said during a break in a preliminary hearing held to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.
Jerred Hernandez, 32, was tracked down in Mexico and returned to Mendocino County in May. He is charged with murder, burglary, arson and several special circumstances and allegations in connection with the bludgeoning death of Michael Williamson, 44 at the home of his parents, who were away at the time.
Hernandez is accused of ransacking and burglarizing the home following the killing and trying to cover his tracks by setting fire to the house.
The charges carry the possibility of a death sentence.
A bloodied baseball bat, a palm print and a golf club are among the items tying Hernandez, to the killing, according to testimony during the preliminary hearing. Police also revealed that witnesses had placed Hernandez at Williamson's home and a nearby home prior to the killing and provided a possible motive: a foiled plan to barbecue chicken.
Williamson, a recovering substance abuser, had been attempting to mentor Hernandez, a troubled teen who lived around the corner from his parents' home.
On the night of the killing, Hernandez and the witness had shown up at Williamson's home at about 11 p.m. with a plan to barbecue but Williamson sent them away, saying it was too late, according to court testimony.
Hernandez, angry about being turned away, then went to a relative's home nearby, where he stayed until about 2 a.m., according to court testimony.
District Attorney David Eyster said he believes Hernandez, who had a key to Williamson's home, let himself into the house and attacked the victim as he slept.
Williamson was beaten so severely that a first responder testified he initially thought the victim had been shot in the face with a shotgun.
The bludgeoning was done with such force that it dented and cracked the metal baseball bat, according to court testimony.
Williamson's skin, hair and blood was embedded in the crack, according to court testimony.
Hernandez's next court appearance is July 9.
(You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)