INDIO – A Riverside County jury today, May 20, 2019, found a man guilty of the 2016 murders of Palms Springs police Officers Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebny and the attempted murders of six other officers.
John Hernandez Felix, DOB: 7-24-90, of Palm Springs, was found 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 make Felix eligible for the death penalty.
The trial now moves to the “penalty phase” during which the same jurors and six alternates will hear testimony, then decide if Felix should be sentenced to death. The penalty phase is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. at the Larson Justice Center in Indio before Judge Anthony Villalobos.
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, is being prosecuted by Assistant DA Michelle Paradise and Deputy DA Manny Bustamante.