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Inmate charged with murder of cellmate, who was serving time for teen’s rape, death

SHARE Inmate charged with murder of cellmate, who was serving time for teen’s rape, death

MANTI — An inmate at the Central Utah Correctional Facility has been charged with aggravated murder in the death of his cellmate, who was serving time for raping and killing a teenage girl.

Carlos-Adrian Javier Hernandez, 24, — convicted of killing 15-year-old Keely Amber Hall in 2007 when he was 14 — was found unconscious on the floor of his cell in the Hickory Facility on Aug. 25.

His cellmate, 26-year-old Julio Cesar Garza, was charged Jan. 9 in 6th District Court with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, after police say he punched and kicked Hernandez "for several minutes" before an alarm sounded, alerting correctional officers to the attack.

Video from the cell shows Garza punching into Hernandez's bunk, then dragging him to the floor to continue the assault. Hernandez and Garza had been cellmates for less than 24 hours, according to charging documents.

Once the alarm sounded in the cell Garza and Hernandez shared, a guard called a phone located in the cell to ask what was happening, charges state. A man who answered the phone "said he was sorry and assured him it wouldn't happen again," as the guard heard labored breathing and wheezing in the background.

Response teams rushing to the cell found Hernandez on the floor, bloody and struggling to breathe, and Garza uninjured with blood splattered on him, according to the charges. No weapons were located in the cell.

Hernandez later died of his injuries.

An initial court date for Garza has not been scheduled. The aggravated murder charge carries a potential death penalty.

Garza has a history of violent crimes, according to court records. Most recently, he was convicted in 2012 of punching another inmate in the head multiple times while the two were in a holding cell at 3rd District Court, according to court records. Before that, he was convicted in a separate case in 2012 of punching a Department of Corrections officer in the eye and mouth after the officer found a razor knife hidden in his cell, court records state.

Hernandez was convicted of strangling Keely Amber Hall in 2007 and dumping her body in a neighborhood park in St. George. He was charged with first-degree murder, rape and aggravated sexual assault and ordered to stand trial as an adult. When he was 15, he pleaded guilty to rape and murder in exchange for a charge of aggravated sexual assault being dropped. He was sentenced to serve 15 years to life in prison for the murder and five years to life for the rape. His first parole hearing was scheduled for 2027.