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Garden Grove woman convicted of killing jewelry salesman

February 1, 2011 |  5:37 pm

An Orange County jury Tuesday convicted a Garden Grove woman of first-degree murder for plotting with her son to kill a Santa Ana jewelry salesman and rob him of his merchandise.

Rebeca Nivarez, 46, was found guilty of killing Mario Hernandez, 78, who disappeared on March 18, 2005, when he went to meet with a client. Hernandez’s van was found doused in gasoline about a week after he went missing, which led authorities to investigate his disappearance as a murder. The man’s body was never recovered, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. 

Nivarez was also convicted of one count of second-degree burglary. According to authorities, she was the last person Hernandez called on his cellphone before he went missing.

Nivarez was accused of having pawned several pieces of jewelry that prosecutors said were forcibly taken from the victim, and of asking her daughter to hold some of the jewelry. Nivarez fled the area, but was later arrested as a result of a yearlong investigation, according to prosecutors.

Her son, 25-year-old Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez, faces the same charges for having allegedly collaborated with his mother, authorities said. Diaz-Nivarez fled to Mexico but was extradited back to Orange County. He is scheduled to stand trial in May.

Nivarez faces 25 years to life in state prison at her sentencing, scheduled in March.

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-- Victoria Kim

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