Hernandez guilty

Timothy Hernandez is escorted Tuesday out of the Skagit County Courthouse after Judge Dave Svaren found Hernandez guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Vanessa Cons.

MOUNT VERNON — A man accused of murdering his girlfriend in their Mount Vernon home last year has been found guilty of second-degree murder.

Skagit County Superior Court Judge Dave Svaren found Timothy Paul Hernandez, 33, guilty Tuesday of murdering 27-year-old Vanessa Cons.

Svaren’s ruling came in a bench trial, which is one where a judge decides a defendant’s fate.

Cons was found beheaded Aug. 26, 2018, in the bedroom the couple shared with their two daughters at the home of Hernandez’s parents.

An autopsy revealed Cons had several defensive stab wounds to her hands, 11 stab wounds to the back of her head and 18 postmortem stab wounds to her back, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rosemary Kaholokula said.

The fatal blow was likely a wound to the neck before Cons was beheaded, Kaholokuka said.

Hernandez was arrested later that morning while leaving Cascade Mall with his young daughter, who later told detectives she saw Hernandez kill Cons.

Hernandez was charged with one count of premeditated murder with aggravating factors, which were for domestic violence, a lack of remorse and that the younger of the couple’s daughters was likely in the room at the time of the killing.

On Tuesday, before Svaren made his ruling, the aggravated factors were dropped and Hernandez pleaded not guilty to an amended charge of first-degree premeditated murder.

However, Svaren had to determine not only whether Hernandez committed the murder but whether he had planned to murder Cons.

Kaholokula stated that because the knife used in the murder likely came from the home’s kitchen and wasn’t stored in the bedroom, Hernandez had time to consider what he was going to do.

He had also waited until the rest of the family had gone to church, and then after the murder showered and attempted to clean the knife, she said.

In the year before Cons’ death, Koholokula said, a neighbor had reportedly heard Hernandez and Cons fight and had heard him threaten to kill her.

Hernandez’s lawyer, C. Wesley Richards, argued there was no proof the knife had been brought to the bedroom and that based on his client’s “vague and delusional” comments to investigators about how God had reportedly told him to kill Cons, there was no way to know how long Hernandez had thought about killing her, if he had at all.

Svaren agreed there was not enough evidence to determine Hernandez had planned the murder, but that there was enough evidence to prove he killed her.

Hernandez showed no emotion as Svaren went through the facts of the case, even detailing comments made between Hernandez and investigators regarding descriptions of the crime scene.

Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 23.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141, kwanielista@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kera_SVH, facebook.com/KeraReports

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