.Murder Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Murder suspect pleaded not guilty to numerous charges on Aug. 11

A Watsonville murder suspect who surrendered after an hours-long standoff last week pleaded not guilty to numerous charges on Aug. 11, and will remain jailed without bail.

Hector Rocha, 44, reportedly shot a 42-year-old man on the 100 block of West Beach Street on Aug. 4. Police found the victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds at about 8:45pm. The victim died at the scene.

One day after the shooting, someone called 911 to report they saw Rocha’s green 1967 Chevrolet single-cab truck in an agricultural field off McGowan Road south of the Pajaro River. 

He refused to come out of the truck for more than four hours as crisis negotiators tried to convince him to surrender.   

Rocha has been charged with murder, several weapons enhancements and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He also faces an enhancement for a previous serious felony.

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Watsonville Police were assisted by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Cruz Police Department, Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team and Santa Cruz Auto Theft Reduction and Enforcement Task Force.

Rocha was previously convicted of attempted arson in June 2022, and received jail time and two years of supervised release.


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