Man sentenced to 8 years in slaying of openly gay man
MONTROSE – One of two men charged in the strangulation of a gay man last summer was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to manslaughter and theft.Adam Hernandez, 21, who was originally charged with felony murder in the July 30 death of Kevin Hale, 36, could instead be sent to a Department of Corrections boot camp program if the agency determines he’s an appropriate candidate, Chief Deputy District Attorney Myrl Serra said.The judge ordered a six-year sentence for manslaughter and a two-year sentence for theft, with the sentences to run back-to-back, Serra said. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors had asked that Hernandez serve no more than eight years.Hernandez apologized to Hale’s family.”I can’t really say I’m innocent, and I can’t really say I’m guilty,” he said during the hearing. “I send all my love to you.”Hernandez’s co-defendant, Jason Fiske, 24, is scheduled to appear in court June 13, though Serra declined to comment on whether a plea agreement had been reached. Fiske is charged with first-degree murder.Hale had told police he had been threatened because he was gay, and his slaying sparked fears that he was targeted because of his sexual orientation. Activist groups called for hate-crime charges, but prosecutors declined to do so after investigating the case.Hernandez, Fiske and Hale had been at a bar. Hernandez told investigators he wanted to beat up Hale because Hale had made sexual advances toward him, authorities said. Hale’s body was found in a Montrose park.The day after the slaying, Fiske told police he placed Hale in a choke hold while breaking up a fight between the other two men. The arrest affidavit said Fiske told police he thought Hale was unconscious when they left him in the park.An autopsy showed Hale died of strangulation, and that he had methamphetamine and an epilepsy medication in his system.
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