INDIO — Opening statements are scheduled to begin the trial of a man charged with the 2016 murders of two Palm Springs police officers

Death Penalty Sought in Murder of Police Officers

John Hernandez Felix

John Hernandez Felix, 28, of Palm Springs is charged with the 2016 murder of Palm Springs police Officers Jose Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny and the attempted murders of six other police officers.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 17, before the Honorable Judge Anthony Villalobos in Dept. 2H at the Larson Justice Center, 46-200 Oasis St., Indio.

The case dates back to Oct. 8, 2016. Palm Springs police received a 911 call regarding a domestic disturbance at a residence on Cypress Avenue. Within minutes after police officers arrived and contacted family members inside the home, Felix fired upon them, according to John Hall, public information officer for the Riverside County District Attorney’s office.

Felix was using an AR-15 rifle.

Officer Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega and Officer Lesley Zerebny were killed by gunfire and six other Palm Springs police officers were injured in the subsequent exchange of gunfire between police and the defendant, according to Hall.

The DA’s Office filed two counts of murder with special circumstance allegations of the murder of a peace officer and multiple murders, six counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, and one count each of possession of an assault weapon, possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition, and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The special circumstance allegations attached to the murder counts made the defendant eligible for the death penalty. DA Mike Hestrin is seeking the death penalty in this case.

The case, INF1601497, is being prosecuted by Assistant DA Michelle Paradise and Deputy DA Manny Bustamante.

Image Sources

  • Death Penalty Sought In Murder Of Police Officers: Booking Photo
  • Vega, Zerebny End of Watch: Behind the Badge OC