Jury selection is set to begin on Thursday for the trial of a convicted felon accused of fatally shooting a 25-year-old acquaintance during a confrontation outside a hookah bar in Riverside.
Kevin Alfredo Hernandez, a 26-year-old resident of San Bernardino, is charged with murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, as well as sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations in the death of Jose Rondan in the parking lot of University Lounge at 1345 University Ave. in 2021.
Pretrial motions were heard on Tuesday, after which Riverside County Superior Court Judge Charles Koosed scheduled multiple panels of jurors to be screened for their qualifications and availability, starting on Thursday morning at Riverside Hall of Justice.
Hernandez is currently held on $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
During the defendant’s preliminary hearing in March 2022, Riverside police Detective Joshua Ontko testified that Hernandez, Rondan, and Rondan’s unidentified girlfriend had gone to the University Lounge on the night of March 13, 2021.
After meeting up with some friends at the hookah bar, they left in the girlfriend’s car to buy alcohol and returned a short time later, around 1 a.m. on March 14, according to Detective Ontko.
The detective stated that they remained in the car to drink for a while, but an argument broke out when the girlfriend misplaced her keys, resulting in Rondan and Hernandez angrily exiting the vehicle and exchanging words.
The verbal dispute turned physical, with Rondan knocking Hernandez down between two cars and repeatedly punching him in the face, as testified by Ontko.
“Mr. Hernandez told us that Jose started choking him, to the point where he almost lost consciousness,” the detective testified. “He eventually stood up, and when Jose turned to face him, Mr. Hernandez pulled out his gun and shot him.”
Ontko also testified that the defendant admitted to opening fire “out of anger.”
Hernandez fled northbound to a nearby strip mall along Interstate 215, where he was apprehended less than an hour later.
According to testimony, paramedics pronounced Rondan dead at the scene from three 9mm bullet wounds to the chest.
No one else was harmed during the incident.
While court documents do not specify his previous felony convictions, it is known that Hernandez has prior felony convictions in another jurisdiction.
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