A man who admitted to stabbing his girlfriend to death during a confrontation at his Orange apartment more than a decade ago but denied killing the couple’s two young sons was convicted Wednesday of all three murders.
An Orange County Superior Court jury deliberated for around three hours before finding Shazer Fernando Limas guilty of first-degree murder for the more than decade-old killings of 31-year-old Arlet Hernandez Contreras, 16-month-old Fernando Hernandez Limas and 3-month-old Emanuel Hernandez Limas.
Contreras’ body was found dumped in a gutter in Los Angeles County with an estimated 48 stab wounds. The bodies of the two young boys have never been found.
Limas was accused of stabbing Contreras and the boys to death in April 2012 at his apartment in Orange, then later disposing of their bodies. In comments made to acquaintances prior to the killings, Limas said he hated Contreras, claimed she was ruining his life and indicated he wished she hadn’t had their kids, Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis told jurors during the trial.
Limas’ attorneys acknowledged that Limas killed Contreras, though they argued he was acting in self-defense. The defense attorneys denied that Limas killed the boys, instead implying that Contreras may have been responsible for their deaths by noting that she had previously threatened to hurt herself or the kids.
Both sides acknowledged that Limas was a womanizer, with the prosecutor telling jurors that Limas lied to other women about having kids and the defense saying Limas had made clear to Contreras that he no longer wanted to be with her.
The prosecution and defense also both acknowledged that Contreras would show up when Limas didn’t want her around and had confronted him or the other women he was with. The defense described Contreras as becoming increasingly obsessed about Limas’ infidelity.
Contreras on April 12, 2012 brought the two boys to the apartment Limas was renting in a large complex in Orange. Contreras and Limas got into an argument, the police were called and Contreras left, only to return later that night after Limas apparently called her.
Guirguis, the prosecutor, said that sometime on April 13 or 14 Limas killed Contreras and the two boys. He apparently injured his hand in the process, and called his then-girlfriend the night of the 14th to get medical treatment.
Limas began sending text messages from Contreras’ phone to her mother, pretending to be Contreras and claiming she had taken the boys on a sudden vacation, the prosecutor alleged.
Contreras’ body was left to rot in a balcony closet at Limas’ apartment until April 24, the prosecutor said. It isn’t known what happened to the bodies of the two boys.
Limas moved some furniture in an apparent effort to cover up the blood in his apartment, and hired a friend to try to clean up the blood stains. Other residents also saw him throw out children’s clothing, a high chair and strollers.
But, according to prosecutors, Limas otherwise appeared to go on with his life as if nothing had happened, going out to dinners and dance clubs and birthday parties and inviting others over to his apartment.
On April 24, Limas loaded at least Contreras’ body into a large chest and then put it into a U-Haul his friend had rented to move furniture.
Limas dumped Contreras’ body, covered in plastic and a comforter, into an industrial area in Los Angeles County. GPS data then showed Limas driving the U-Haul into the mountains.
Contreras’ body was found by workers in La Puente the next day. Due to decomposition, authorities had to use her fingerprints to identify her.
Limas broke the lease at his apartment and moved out on April 28 without giving the management any warning. Workers sent to prepare the unit for the next tenant discovered a foul odor, large bleach stains, blood spatter on the walls and ceilings and blood underneath the carpet.
Days later, Limas was taken into custody after a high-speed freeway chase. He had Contreras’ phone with him at the time of his arrest.
Efforts by law enforcement to locate the bodies of the boys were unsuccessful. The prosecutor noted that no one has heard from either of them in the past 10 1/2 years.
During the trial, Associate Defender Mick Hill told jurors that the wounds Limas had apparently suffered during his confrontation with Contreras appeared to be defensive, as if he had grabbed an attacker’s knife. The defense attorney said Contreras had previously threatened to hurt the children and told jurors that she “ultimately followed through with these threats and it resulted in her own death.”
Limas’ actions after the deaths were those of someone in “reaction mode,” his defense attorneys said, not someone who had planned a killing.
As a result of being found guilty of the multiple murders, Limas is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on Feb. 3.
Source: Orange County Register