A judge on Wednesday gave the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office two more months to announce whether it will seek the death penalty should a 36-year-old Pharr man be convicted of killing a 1-year-old in October.
Ubence Hernandez III appeared before state District Judge Mario E. Ramirez Jr. via videoconference where Hope Palacios, chief of the DA’s Special Crimes Division, told the judge more work needed to be done before she could make the determination.
“I’m not prepared to make that announcement this afternoon,” Palacios said.
Hernandez is accused of breaking 1-year-old Julius Flores’ spine “due to blunt force trauma” on Sept. 22 at a residence in the 3700 block of E. Business 83.
Hernandez was babysitting the child while his mother was at the store.
A Hidalgo County grand jury indicted the man Jan. 14 on charges of capital murder of a person under 10 years old, murder and injury to a child.
After his Oct. 7 arrest, Hernandez denied the charges, saying “Man, I didn’t do this s—, bro,” at his appearance in front of Donna Municipal Judge Javier Garza.
He faces another charge stemming from Sept. 22, the day the child died.
Donna police arrested him for that charge Nov. 19 and allege he pointed a gun at a woman named Patricia Ann Garces.
The complaint for that arrest doesn’t explain whether Hernandez and Garces knew each other or whether this allegation is in some way related to the death of the child, though both of the incidents occurred on the same day.
Hernandez’s attorneys, Abner Burnett and O. Rene Flores, along with Palacios, told Ramirez, the judge, that discovery in the case is ongoing.
The new date for a death penalty announcement is June 16, though Palacios indicated that if a decision is made prior to then she will file it into the court record.
The capital murder of a child under 10 years old charge carries a sentence of life in prison without parole or lethal injection.
Hernandez remains jailed on a total of $950,000 in bonds.