A truck thief who struck and killed an Austin man last summer while trying to get away from police has been found guilty of murder. The victim in the case was 32-year-old Austin resident James Williford.
It only took jurors 30 minutes to find Reynaldo Hernandez Junior on both charges against him.
"We the jury find the defendant, Reynaldo Hernandez, Jr. guilty of the offense of murder...We the jury find Reynaldo Hernandez Jr. guilty of the offense of theft."
The defense had hoped to acquit Hernandez on the murder charge. Their argument was that Hernandez did not intend to kill James Williford. They also blamed Austin police for getting into a pursuit with Hernandez.
Last June, a security officer at Barton Creek Mall says he saw Hernandez steal an F-250 truck.
An APD officer spotted it and gave chase. At one point he got a flat tire and backed off. At that moment, Hernandez ran a red light at the intersection of Packsaddle Pass and the Highway 71 frontage road and fatally struck Williford's car.
Williford was on his way to take money to a friend who was dying of cancer. He leaves behind a wife, Esther. She said the two were hoping to start a family. Now they'll never get that chance.
FOX 7 spoke to Williford's father who was also in the courtroom.
"I'm thankful because all of us are moving forward towards the final stage of closure and it's been a really long year since the moment I was awakened in the middle of the night and told my son was dead at a very early age and so much of his life was ahead of him," said Richard Summers, Williford's father.
The jury will meet back here Thursday morning for the sentencing phase. Hernandez faces up to 99 years in prison for the murder conviction.