.Watsonville Man Who Killed Wife Sentenced

Cesar Hernandez gets at least 20 years in prison

A Watsonville man who killed his wife and left her body in a vehicle in Santa Cruz–before fleeing to Mexico where he was arrested at the border–was sentenced Friday to at least 20 years in state prison.

Cesar Hernandez, 49, has been in Santa Cruz County Main Jail since October 2020, after Watsonville Police detectives arrested him at the border crossing at San Ysidro, where he was re-entering the U.S. It is still unclear why he re-entered the U.S. after leaving the country.

He pleaded no contest to murder charges on Sept. 7.

Police believe that Hernandez murdered Becerra at their Watsonville home on the 700 block of Rodriguez Street on Oct. 15, and then drove her in the family’s Ford SUV and abandoned her body and the vehicle on Mission Drive in Santa Cruz. She died from blunt force head injuries, and mechanical asphyxia, police said.

Becerra was first reported missing Oct. 15, about a half-hour after Hernandez dropped off the couple’s two young children with family members in Watsonville. Her body was found in the vehicle just before noon the same day.

Watsonville Police Capt. Anthony Magdayao said Border Patrol agents stopped Hernandez Monday evening as he made his way through the checkpoint. WPD Detectives drove overnight to arrest him.

Becerra worked as a cleaner at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. She had plans to attend college, earn a degree and enter the medical field. Her children are currently living with the Aceves family.

Beccera’s cousin Alma Aceves has described Hernandez as a “monster” who abused Beccera mentally and verbally.

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