The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to hear the case of a man convicted of killing his estranged wife’s friend in Lynwood, who was dismembered and left in a car in San Bernardino in 2015.
Ernesto Ornelas is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole for the Sept. 19, 2015, killing of Miguel Evora, 28. Evora’s remains were discovered four days later inside the trunk of the victim’s car, which was found parked on a residential street in San Bernardino.
The victim had been shot three times in the neck, chest and arm, and been dismembered with a jagged tool after his death, according to a ruling in March by a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal that upheld Ornelas’ conviction.
The appellate court justices noted in the March 18 ruling that Ornelas “employed a sophisticated ruse to lure the victim to defendant’s home.”
“The trickery included hacking his wife’s Facebook account and impersonating her on social media in an elaborate scheme to kill Evora, who defendant was convinced was his wife’s lover,” the justices noted. “There followed a brutal lying-in-wait murder and post-mortem dismemberment of the victim. The metal saw apparently used to cut up the victim was found at the scene after defendant set fire to his residence in an effort to cover up the crime.”
Investigators subsequently determined that a fire had deliberately been set in Ornelas’ living room, but that DNA testing established that Evora’s blood was on three items recovered from the living room, according to the ruling.
Along with the first-degree murder charge, Ornelas was convicted of arson, stalking his estranged wife and contempt of court for violating a protective order involving her.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of murder while lying in wait, along with a gun allegation.
Defense attorneys had argued that there were numerous errors in Ornelas’ trial.
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