BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - UPDATE (April 6, 9:40 a.m.): A judge has ruled that Julian Hernandez will be sentenced May 4.
A jury has found Julian Hernandez guilty on all counts in connection to the death of a Bakersfield Police Officer in 2015.
Hernandez was found guilty on a 2nd degree murder charge, evading an officer causing death, possession of a firearm by a felon, possessing ammunition while being a person prohibited from owning and possessing a firearm, and carrying a loaded firearm with prior felon conviction.
The first full day of deliberations in the murder trial against Julian Hernandez began Thursday morning after closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday.
It was an emotional courtroom while the court waited for the verdict. While Officer David Nelson's family waited for the verdict to be read they were hugging and holding each other. When the guilty verdicts were read they all sighed with relief while wiping their eyes.
Deputy District Attorney Jim Simson said it was the verdict he was hoping for. He said, "It doesn't bring David back you know. And it doesn't come anywhere close. But for what the law allows we got justice today. It's the right verdict."
The jury took about a day to deliberate and come to the conclusion of guilty on all counts. The jury foreperson, Joseph Skaggs, said they started with the lowest charge and worked their way to second degree murder. Eventually he said they jury decided guilty of second degree because Hernandez knew the risks he was causing.
"It could have been a homeless person walking or a Bakersfield College youth walking at that time coming home from a party that you have to think in those things going double the speed limit you know in your mind that there's a high probability that you're going to hurt yourself or somebody else," said Skaggs.
Hernandez's attorney, Ronald Carter, said he disagrees with the ruling and does not agree that malice of forethought went into the death of Officer Nelson
"Given the facts that I know of the case, the count two was probably appropriate, I'm not convinced the second degree murder charge," said Carter.
The prosecution argued Hernandez's track record is evidence that he knew what he was doing when he led Bakersfield Police Officer David Nelson on a high-speed chase on June 26, 2015.
That crash killed Officer Nelson, who was with the department for two years. Nelson was the first BPD officer to be killed in the line of duty since William Sikola was killed in a high-speed pursuit in 1983.
The defense argued there was reasonable doubt that Hernandez was even the driver of the car. There were no eyewitnesses to confirm he was in the driver's seat. During the trial, a detective testified that surveillance cameras captured speeds of more than 100 miles per hour during the pursuit.