INDIO – A Riverside County jury today, May 30, 2019, decided that a man convicted of the 2016 murders of Palms Springs police Officers Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebny should receive the death penalty.
On May 20, 2019, the same jurors found John Hernandez Felix, DOB: 7-24-90, of Palm Springs, guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder of the two officers. The seven-woman, five-man jury also found true special circumstances of multiple murders and murder of a peace officer, which made Felix eligible for the death penalty.
After hearing testimony during the subsequent penalty phase of the trial, jurors have decided that Felix should be sentenced to death.
“We are gratified with the jury’s verdict and this represents a step toward justice for these two fallen officers,” said District Attorney Mike Hestrin.
Judge Anthony Villalobos is scheduled to render the sentence on Aug. 30, 2019, in Dept. 2H at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
On Oct. 8, 2016, Palm Springs police received a 911 call regarding a domestic disturbance at a residence on Cypress Avenue. Within minutes after officers arrived and contacted family members inside the home, they were fired upon by Felix, who was using an AR-15 rifle.
Officer Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega and Officer Lesley Zerebny were killed by gunfire and six other Palm Springs police officers were injured by shots fired by Felix in the subsequent exchange of gunfire.
The DA’s Office filed two counts of murder with special circumstance allegations of the murder of a peace officer and multiple murders, six counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, and one count each of possession of an assault weapon, possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition, and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
The case, INF1601497, was prosecuted by Assistant DA Michelle Paradise and Deputy DA Manny Bustamante.