Death sentence recommended for killer in 2016 murders of 2 Palm Springs officers

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (KABC) -- Jurors on Thursday recommended that a man be sentenced to death for the 2016 murders of two Palm Springs officers.

John Hernandez Felix was found guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jose "Gil" Vega and Lesley Zerebny earlier this month. He was also found guilty in the attempted murders of six other officers.

The officers were gunned down by a hail of bullets from an AR-15 rifle during a chaotic barricade situation at the gunman's home in 2016.

"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, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

Vega was a 35-year-veteran of the police department and Zerebny was a rookie who had recently returned to active duty from maternity leave.

The case stems from an incident on Oct. 8, 2016, when Palm Springs police responded to a 911 call of 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," prosecutors said in a statement.

Vega and Zerebny were killed and six other officers wounded by gunfire in the shootout, authorities said.
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