Jury deliberations to enter third day in Los Banos murder trial

A second day of jury deliberations ended Thursday without a verdict in the case against a suspected Los Banos gang member charged with killing man last year.

Albert Hernandez, 18, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the March 4 shooting death of Shane Moore and three counts of attempted murder. A jury of nine women and three men began deliberations Wednesday after a three-week trial before Judge Ronald W. Hansen in Merced County Superior Court.

Moore, 18, was not a gang member, but was killed at a home in the 800 block of La Mesa Lane when a gunman fired into a crowd of about a dozen people, investigators said.

Hernandez was 17 at the time but was charged as an adult. Co-defendant Christopher Aguayo, 16, who was also charged as an adult, pleaded guilty Oct. 2 to being an accessory and was sentenced to seven years in the state Division of Juvenile Justice.

Investigators found no physical evidence linking Hernandez to Moore’s death, and Hernandez’s statement to Los Banos police detectives is the key evidence in the case. Hernandez told police he fired at suspected gang rivals and killed Moore accidentally, according to a video recording of the interrogation.

The defense called it a “false confession” that was made only after police convinced Hernandez that confessing was the only way he’d see see his family again. Prosecutors said falsely confessing to a murder “makes no sense” and the interrogation tactics used are routinely employed and legal.

Deliberations resume today.