Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine saluted the dogged determination of the Omaha Police Department after a 33-year-old cold case concluded Tuesday with a convicted murderer heading to prison for the maximum time allowed by law.
Douglas County District Court Judge J Russell Derr sentenced Oscar Rosario Hernandez, 52, to 20 years for manslaughter and 20 years for use of a weapon to commit a felony. Hernandez had pleaded guilty to the Sept. 4, 1980, death of Vicki DeAnda.
Russell Derr ordered Hernandez to serve the sentences consecutively meaning he will be 72 before he is considered for probation and 92 before he must be released. Hernandez will be credited with 224 days served in jail.
“It's sort of amazing because this is the second case we've had in the last couple of years with a long history,” Kleine said after the hearing. “The police department produced a tremendous amount of work to put these cases back together after so long.”
In 2011, transient Jerry Watson was sentenced to life in prison for the October 1978 slaying of Carroll Bonnet, 61, in a near-downtown apartment. Watson's sentence came after Omaha police investigators matched Watson's DNA to a hair collected from the apartment complex near 25th and Douglas Streets, which has since been razed.
Hernandez had been charged with second-degree murder, but Kleine said he reduced the charge after consulting with police and the victim's family. Hernandez told police he had caught DeAnda with another man and the two fought.
DeAnda hit Hernandez with a bottle. He hit her back — knocking her out. He then slashed her throat with the broken bottle, stuffed her body in a closet and fled.
He was arrested Aug. 17, 2012, in New Mexico by U.S. Border Patrol agents after a check of Hernandez's information revealed an outstanding warrant for his arrest issued in 1980 in Omaha.
DeAnda, 29, was reported missing on Sept. 4, 1980. On Sept. 11, a friend noticed a blanket on the front porch of DeAnda's South Omaha home that hadn't been there earlier.
According to a police report, there was a strong odor in the apartment at 24th and Oak Streets when officers arrived.
DeAnda's body was found in a kitchen closet in an advanced state of decomposition, police told The World-Herald at the time.
Police said DeAnda had talked with a friend on Sept. 4 about an argument she had with Hernandez. Hernandez had been in the area working temporary jobs. Police at the time said they believed that Hernandez had returned to Mexico.
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