INDIO (AP) — A man was convicted Monday of killing two police officers and trying to kill six others in an ambush-style attack.
After just hours of deliberation, a Southern California jury found John Hernandez Felix guilty of multiple charges including two counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder, KESQ-TV reported.
Palm Springs Officers Lesley Zerebny and Jose “Gil” Vega were killed responding to a call about domestic violence at Felix’s mother’s house on Oct. 8, 2016. Prosecutors said Felix opened fire on the officers with an AR-15 rifle.
Six other officers were injured as police and Felix exchanged gunfire in a residential neighborhood more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. Felix was arrested after a lengthy standoff.
David Kling, Zerebney’s father, said he was “overjoyed” by the guilty verdict.
“The jury was presented with the facts, and we’re very happy about it,” Kling told the Desert Sun newspaper.
Defense attorney John Dolan told jurors that his client has low intelligence and was on drugs at the time of the crime.
Felix, 28, an admitted gang member, could face the death penalty. Prosecutor Michelle Paradise said several officers who survived the shooting will testify during the sentencing phase of the trial that begins Tuesday.
Dolan contended Felix is too intellectually disabled to face capital punishment, but the judge in the case disagreed. Dolan didn’t comment on Monday’s guilty verdict.
Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this year announced a moratorium on enforcing the death penalty but the decision does not prevent prosecutors from seeking nor judges and juries from imposing death sentences.
Vega, a father of eight, was a 35-year veteran months away from retirement when he was killed. He wasn’t scheduled to work the day he died but had volunteered to fill the shift.
Zerebny was a rookie officer just back from maternity leave.