Family pleads to keep killer in prison for 1994 double murder in Fresno County
HomeHome > News > Family pleads to keep killer in prison for 1994 double murder in Fresno County

Family pleads to keep killer in prison for 1994 double murder in Fresno County

Jan 25, 2024

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- UPDATE: Parole was denied during a hearing for Stanley Michael Skala on Wednesday. Prosecutors say he will not be eligible for another hearing for five more years.The original story follows below.

A hitman who killed two South Valley teens in the 1990s could go free after a parole hearing on Wednesday.

"We feel cheated, we feel disrespected, we feel stomped on."

Richie Hernandez and his family from Lindsay are suffering heartbreak once again, nearly three decades after a devastating loss.

In 1994, two cousins and best friends were lured to a Fresno County field and executed.

It happened after 19-year-old AJ Hernandez and 18-year-old Danny Hernandez paid a Visalia tire shop owner, Jerry Rodriguez, $2,000 for custom rims for a red truck.

Investigators discovered Rodriguez kept the money and hired a hitman to shoot and kill the teens near Kingsburg.

"It's something that we live with every day. Every Christmas, every birthday, every Mother's Day, every Father's Day, it lives with us every day," describes Richie.

Rodriguez is now on death row.

The shooter, Stanley Michael Skala, pleaded guilty to multiple charges - including first-degree murder.

Prosecutors say he was sentenced to two 25 years to life terms - plus 26 years determinate for the remaining counts.

That was in addition to a previous sentence of more than 23 years for a 1995 robbery case in Tulare County.

"This is a man who deserves to spend every day of his life until he dies in the California Department of Corrections," said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp. " This was not a drug deal gone bad, these were not people dealing in criminal activity, these were innocent victims and he robbed those families."

Skala is up for parole on Wednesday.

California's Youth Offender Parole Hearings allow a person who was under the age of 26 when they committed the offense to receive a hearing for possible parole.

According to CDCR, the legislation behind those hearings is based on scientific evidence that shows parts of the brain don't fully mature until one's mid-to-late 20s.

At the time of the murders, Skala was 24.

He had this to say during his sentencing in 2002, "I can't change what I did. I can't do that, it's just not possible. And I can't even begin to imagine the suffering that I've caused you. I am admitting my guilt. I did do it and I'm sorry."

Richie Hernandez says there is no apology or remorse that can put the pieces of his family back together.

"We don't have freedom from the pain that we have had throughout these years. But Skala gets to ask for his freedom back, it's just not fair," expresses Richie.

AJ's baseball jersey and the red pickup that Richie keeps are reminders of who his brother and cousin were.

Richie says his brother wanted to be a teacher and give back to the community.

He still mourns both lives that were taken too soon.

Skala is serving his time at Centinela State Prison in Imperial County.

We reached out to his defense attorney who says they have no comment at this time.

If the board recommends parole on Wednesday morning, Governor Newsom will have 120 days to review the decision and could potentially reverse it.

For news updates, follow Kassandra Gutierrez on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.