Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Portales man found guilty of numerous sex crime counts

Ernesto Hernandez, 37, of Portales, was convicted Tuesday of 16 different felony counts, most involving sex crimes with a minor, according to a news release from District Attorney Brett Carter.

Hernandez was convicted on 10 counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor under 13 and five counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor under 13, the news release said. Hernandez was also convicted of intimidation of a witness.

The sexual penetration counts are first-degree felonies, and the other 11 are third-degree felonies. Hernandez faces more than 120 years in prison if sentenced to the maximum time allowed, the release said.

“At the minimum, he should receive an 18-year sentence (for each first-degree felony),” Carter said. “Obviously, we want it to be more than that.”

The crimes all involved the same victim, a relative to Hernandez, and occurred in Portales over a 10-year period starting in 1993, the news release said.

The victim, now 14, testified during the two-day trial in Judge Stephen Quinn's court.

Quinn ordered a pre-sentence report in the case, Carter said, which means the adult probation office will do a background check. After the office checks the prior record and speaks with the victims, a recommendation will be given to the judge. However, the judge is not bound by the recommendation and Carter is hoping for the maximum sentence.

Hernandez was arrested in July 2003 and is in custody on a $100,000 bond, according to the release.

Hernandez is not listed in the phone directory and family members could not be reached for comment. Jim Wilson, Hernandez’ attorney, was not available for comment Tuesday evening.