BARSTOW A jury convicted Arturo Hernandez, a Pomona man, Thursday of murdering his own grandmother and dumping her body in the Mojave Desert in 2008.

Hernandez, 23, was convicted of first-degree murder and could serve a maximum sentence of 55 years to life because of prior felony charges, said Deputy District Attorney Joel Buckinham.
The prosecution accused Hernandez of smothering to death his 58-year-old grandmother, Aguilar Ventura, and dumping her body between the Nevada-California border.

"Ultimately we trust the jury to do their duty and I believe they returned a verdict in accordance to the evidence," Buckinham said.

Hernandez and Ventura were traveling home to Pomona from visiting family in Las Vegas in November 2008. When the two never returned, family reported the two missing, according to previous reports. The truck the two were traveling in was found abandoned behind the Barstow Mall days before Ventura's body was found off of Excelsior Mine Road, near I-15.

Public Defender Troy Padgett was not available for comment Thursday.

Hernandez has previous charges in Kern County for possession of marijuana, court records show. He was also charged on June 11, 2009, for battery of a peace officer.

Hernandez is scheduled to appear in court Friday for other charges.

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(760) 256-4123 or klucia@desertdispatch.com