Guilty plea from man who killed woman and severely injured her 8-year-old child in San Marcos

Daniel Hernandez sentenced to 22 years to life

VISTA, Calif. - A Vista man who fatally stabbed a woman and critically wounded her 8-year-old daughter in the victims' San Marcos apartment last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and premeditated attempted murder.

As part of a plea bargain, 28-year-old Daniel Hernandez will serve 22 years in prison before he can be eligible for parole. The victim's family said they are relieved.

Hernandez will be sentenced at a hearing Aug. 27.

Sheriff's deputies went to a unit in the Whispering Oaks Apartment complex on North Twin Oaks Valley Road about 3:30 a.m. last Dec. 18 and found Antonia Marie Duran dead of multiple stab wounds and her 8-year-old daughter, Azalya, badly injured, homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said.

At the defendant's arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior said Hernandez, who had met the 41-year-old Duran a couple months earlier at a car wash, went to her apartment the day of the murder with the intent to kill her.

The defendant searched the apartment to make sure no one else was there, finding only Azalya asleep in her room, Prior said.

The girl woke up while Hernandez was stabbing the victim and screamed, "Leave my mother alone," the prosecutor said. Not wanting to leave a witness, Hernandez then attacked the girl, stabbing her 26 times in the liver, kidney and pancreas, Prior said.

Emergency responders who went to the scene said the girl told them, "I don't want to die," before she was taken to a hospital, according to Prior. The child was placed in a medically induced coma but survived.

Prior said Duran's adult son found his mother and sister lying in a pool of blood after seeing the defendant run from the apartment. Duran was stabbed 22 times, Prior said, though a motive for the attack was unclear.

Hernandez was located at a nearby laundry washing the clothes he had been wearing, including a sweatshirt, shoes and other clothing, Prior said.

The prosecutor said blood and other physical evidence links Hernandez to the attack. She said two bloody knives were found inside the victims' apartment.

A week before the murder, Hernandez trashed his parents' home and was arrested for being under the influence of an unknown drug, according to Prior, who said the defendant has previous convictions for domestic violence and assault in Washington state and a misdemeanor burglary conviction from San Diego County in 2007.

Azalya was not in the courtroom Wednesday, but outside, she showed she would not let what happened hold her back. She was full of smiles as she told 10News she is loving the horse therapy program through Rady Children's Hospital.

Hernandez's mother and sister were in court. His sister's eyes welled up as she said how deeply sorry they are for the Duran family.

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