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June 19, 2024

Soledad man receives life sentence for 2016 murder

GREENFIELD — A Soledad man was sentenced to life in prison last Friday for the execution-style shooting of his child’s mother at her Greenfield home in 2016.

According to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, 30-year-old Ernesto Hernandez received a life sentence without the possibility of parole on Dec. 8 for the first-degree murder of Abigail Gasca-Chavez, 19.


In October, a jury found Hernandez guilty of first-degree murder and residential burglary with use of a firearm. The jury also found true the special allegation that Hernandez committed the murder while lying in wait, which made him eligible for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Hernandez had two prior strike convictions from 2005 for attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

The jury’s verdict followed a two-and-a-half-week trial before the Honorable Pamela L. Butler.

On the afternoon of March 29, 2016, family members found Gasca-Chavez dead in her Greenfield home from seven gunshot wounds to her head and face. Evidence from home surveillance cameras throughout Greenfield showed Hernandez pursuing Gasca-Chavez by car during the morning, and then caught him confronting the victim outside her home.

Video later showed Hernandez driving past her house when she was gone and entering through an unlocked door, where he waited about 16 minutes until she and her 2-year-old entered the house. Less than a minute later, he ran from the home.

Family members discovered Gasca-Chavez’s body about 25 minutes later after a neighbor found her child alone and crying outside.

That same day cell phone and video evidence demonstrated that Hernandez left Monterey County and drove to a bus station in Los Angeles, where he left his car and bought a one-way ticket to McAllen, Texas. From there, he crossed into Mexico but was later arrested and deported to the United States to face charges.

The case was investigated by the Greenfield Police Department, the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitive Task Force.