Santa Cruz County man pleads guilty to murdering his wife


SANTA CRUZ — A Watsonville man has pleaded guilty to the murder of his 25-year-old wife.

Cesar Hernandez leans toward a microphone in November to answer a question from Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick during his arraignment for the Oct. 14 murder of his wife, Brenda Becerra. (Shmuel Thaler -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)
Cesar Hernandez leans toward a microphone in November 2020 to answer a question from Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick during his arraignment for the Oct. 14, 2020, murder of his wife, Brenda Becerra. (Shmuel Thaler — Santa Cruz Sentinel file) 

Cesar Antonio Hernandez, 49, was arrested after the body of Brenda Becerra was found in the family’s car, parked on Mission Drive in Live Oak, outside Becerra’s workplace. Hours earlier on that Oct. 15, 2020 morning, family members had called police to report Becerra missing after Hernandez dropped off the couple’s two young children unannounced and with little explanation. Family then went to the couple’s home and found a stripped bed, only the odor of cleaning chemicals remaining.

Four days later, Hernandez was taken into custody as he crossed from Mexico back into the United States.

After his May 12, 2021 preliminary hearing, Hernandez was held to answer on his wife’s murder. During that hearing, details of the hours leading up to Becerra’s death became apparent. Hernandez had gotten a friend to let the air out of tires of his wife’s vehicle while she was at work, planning to show up just in time “to become the hero” for her. The two, according to hearing testimony, had been having marital troubles. In the early hours of the next morning, Hernandez reportedly called a friend in whom he had confided his surprise plans, saying the whole night had gone wrong when he had found out his wife was having an affair, according to police testimony.



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