A man will serve at least 25 years in prison after admitting he killed a man he considered his friend in a drug-fueled dispute.
Frank Joseph Hernandez Jr., 25, of Central Point, was sentenced to 25 years after pleading guilty to murder Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court, admitting he was high on drugs when he shot 25-year-old Jordan Scott Andres of Medford last April during an argument over drugs and money outside a Medford apartment complex.
Police said Hernandez then used death threats to coerce two people to help him flee the scene before his capture in Gold Hill late the next day.
Hernandez stood solemnly as Andres' wife composed herself and said she'd lost three jobs in the past six months because her grief makes being present difficult. She said she keeps trying because she's determined to care for their infant son, and she knows one day she'll have to explain to her son where his father is.
"I know my husband wasn't a perfect person. ... I know our marriage wasn't perfect," she said.
Her first instinct was to "make someone else hurt," but now she understands that "there's multiple families affected," she said. Hernandez's fiancee and infant son were among those in the audience.
"I do feel for his family and I'm sorry for their hurt," she said. "I'd like Mr. Hernandez to know, I forgive you."
Andres' brother told Hernandez he wished he could forgive him, but he wasn't ready yet.
"I hope you realize how much hurt and pain you've caused," he said.
Hernandez apologized to Andres' family, telling them he doesn't know what he was thinking when he shot Andres, but knows he "didn't hate him." He said he admitted to the murder charge because he didn't want to put the family through the pain of a trial.
"He really was my friend, he didn't deserve that," Hernandez said. "I don't expect you guys to forgive me. I don't forgive myself — hopefully in time."
At just before 3 a.m. April 12, Hernandez shot Andres in an apartment parking lot at 2281 Table Rock Road. Hernandez confronted Andres about cash and drugs that had gone missing a few weeks prior from his car, according to Deputy District Attorney Virginia Greer, and things "got heated."
Hernandez got out of his car, pulled his gun and shot Andres in the chest. Witnesses attempted CPR on Andres as Hernandez fled, and they provided a description of the vehicle involved, a red 2017 Toyota Camry.
Hernandez coerced two people to drive him to his grandparents' house outside Jacksonville. Greer said Hernandez told the driver and passenger that if they didn't comply, they'd "end up like the victim."
In April, his grandparents Vernon Earl Auten Jr. and Wendi Ruth Burrill were arrested on charges of hindering prosecution, but court records show the charges were never prosecuted.
The day after the shooting, police captured Hernandez in the 6500 block of Kentucky Drive in Gold Hill. Hernandez had two firearms on him, a shotgun and the handgun used in the murder.
Hernandez was sentenced to 300 months in prison, the mandatory minimum sentence for murder under Oregon's Measure 11.
Court records show that Hernandez has prior felony convictions dating back to 2012. He was sentenced to prison in 2014 for unlawful use of a weapon, felon in possession of a firearm and interfering with a police officer.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.