When the judge called his name, inmate Joshua Joseph Hernandez stood up and knew he would be sent to state prison.
But instead of 16 years to life in prison if he’d been found guilty of murder as originally charged, Hernandez by pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter got 12 years in state prison.
The sentence was handed down Monday by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Don Penner.
Hernandez, 27, will serve less time that that because he has credit for more than a year in the county jail, including credits for good time and work time behind bars.
The crime involved the stabbing death of Cory Dylan Smith, 26.
In the early hours of March 12, 2018, a fight erupted outside an apartment complex in Selma in the 2500 block of McCall Avenue.
In an apparent attempt at stopping the fight, Smith entered the fray holding a tree branch.
Hernandez told police that Smith was holding the tree branch like a baseball bat, and that the two fought each other.
In an emotional interview with police in which he waived his Miranda rights, Hernandez said he feared for his life. He pulled out a three-inch pocket knife and stabbed Smith, and used a Taser as well, according to a narrative that the judge read in court.
Prosecutor Noelle Pebet later told reporters that neither pocket knife nor Taser was found. Drugs and alcohol were a factor, she added.
Hernandez was taken by friends to the Reedley hospital for treatment of wounds that he suffered in the fight. Police found him there and arrested him.
Smith died at a hospital of stab wounds to his heart and lung.
At the sentencing, Penner asked if the victim’s family wanted to speak, but none stepped forward. The family knew about the sentencing, Pebet said, but the victim’s mother has avoided court because the trauma of losing her son has been very hard on her.