A San Jose man who shot and killed a suspected car thief during a citizen’s arrest pleaded guilty to felony involuntary manslaughter with use of a firearm Tuesday.
In exchange for the plea, Luis Ricardo Hernandez, 26, will be to be sentenced to four years in Santa Clara County jail in connection to the death of Chris Soriano, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office.
Court records show Hernandez shot and killed Soriano because he suspected he was a serial burglar. Police said Hernandez tried to detain him at his apartment complex until police arrived. The gun went off during the struggle, killing Sarian on Dec. 31, 2012.
Before the plea bargain, which was announced Tuesday, Hernandez faced life in prison.
"After a thorough investigation, the evidence shows the defendant never had the intent to kill the victim. The evidence shows that Mr. Soriano died because of the defendant's extremely reckless and criminally negligent behavior. By pleading guilty early in the process to involuntary manslaughter, the defendant has accepted responsibility for his actions and the punishment that goes with those actions,” prosecutor Matt Braker said.
The case led to a near fist fight outside court following a Jan. 18 court hearing.
Community members who supported Hernandez rallied at the Hall of Justice to decry the murder charges filed against a "hard working soccer dad."
Just after the brief court appearance, those supporters and family members of the slain Soriano got into a fight outside the courthouse.
Soriano's widow, Carmen Soriano, could be heard yelling, "You killed my husband."
Fists flew and Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies ran out to separate the families.
No one was arrested, but deputies let the Hernandez family leave first and then the Soriano family leave.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Brian Welch, who supervises the homicide unit, said in a statement at the time that the "current facts show that at the time of the shooting Mr. Hernandez had no legal excuse or justification for using deadly force on an unarmed man. "