San Jose

2 Suspects in Girl's Apparent Exorcism Death Inside San Jose Church Back in Court

NBC Universal, Inc.

The grandfather and uncle of a 3-year-old girl killed during an apparent exorcism-like ceremony at a makeshift church in San Jose were back in court Thursday.

The suspects, both named Rene Hernandez, sat inches away from each other in a courtroom as they were formally charged in the death of Arely Doe.

Defense attorneys were going to ask for bail but delayed that request, saying they needed more time to review evidence.

The girl's mother, Claudia Hernandez, has been in jail for months. Her father and brother were arrested last week.

According to police reports, Hernandez believed her daughter was possessed by a demon because she'd wake up in the middle of the night screaming and crying.
Police say the trio smothered and strangled the child for at least seven hours in an attempt to rid her body of what they told officers was an evil spirit – all of this happening inside a makeshift church at a San Jose home.

Some have asked why police waited so long to arrest the grandfather and uncle, who are both described as pastors for the church.

"The thing that allowed us to arrest Rene Hernandez and Rene Hernandez Santos was the release of the medical examiner's report to our office," prosecutor Rebekah Wise said.

In a statement, the attorney representing the girl's grandfather urged everyone to reserve judgement until the full facts are known.

The child's great grandmother and her grandfather's sister also showed up to watch Thursday's hearing, but neither wanted to speak on camera.

"We don't have any new information now, but the investigation is ongoing, and as new information comes to light, we are giving it to the defense attorneys as well as conducting ongoing investigation in this case," Wise said.

Legal analysts say it's not likely a judge will grant any of the three suspects bail because of the magnitude of their charges and the security risk they may present.

All three could face life in prison if convicted on all charges.

Contact Us