A man who fatally stabbed 30-year-old Carl Gomez Jr. during an altercation in a Fruitvale mobile home in February will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Ciera Gomez, the victim's sister, said Carl Jr. was a beloved uncle in their extended family, a popular guy and a Grand Junction High School graduate who is sorely missed.
"To me, we lost two lives," she said Wednesday afternoon after a jury found 32-year-old Elias Trevino Hernandez guilty on all counts, including first-degree felony murder.
"Win or lose, our brother ain't coming home," Ciera Gomez said. "Although justice is served, we still lost."
Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley imposed the life sentence Wednesday following a jury trial that lasted roughly two weeks.
Hernandez maintained he was acting in self-defense when he stabbed Carl Gomez Jr., during the morning of Feb. 11 at 532 Placer Drive.
Given an opportunity by Gurley to speak, Hernandez paused and then apologized to several members of the victim's family in the courtroom.
"I want to tell the Gomez family, sorry, man," Hernandez said, making eye contact with some of Gomez's family members. "Sorry for your loss."
Hernandez broke into the home of his ex-girlfriend on Feb. 11 and was met by Carl Gomez Sr. and his son, Carl Gomez Jr., and a fight ensued, according to testimony in the case.
Hernandez's attorney, public defender Steve Colvin, said during closing arguments that either Gomez Sr. or Gomez Jr. exclaimed during the fight, "Boy, time to get him," referring to Hernandez. Colvin also noted that Hernandez warned his ex-girlfriend he would use his knife if the men didn't get off him. Those statements show Hernandez acted in self-defense, Colvin argued.
"He said it loud, hard and mean. It's not something you say in context of a normal conversation," Colvin told the jury during closing arguments.
Prosecutor Bo Zeerip said during closing arguments that testimony and evidence in the case showed Hernandez forced his way inside the home and was heard by witnesses threatening to kill people even before he entered the home.
Gomez died from a single stab wound to the chest, Zeerip said.
"That knife had to be thrust pretty hard to get through his skin," he told the jury.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Hernandez was charged with first-degree murder.