SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Emotions ran high in a Sacramento courtroom on Friday as a judge sentenced a Natomas father in the gruesome murder of his 9-year-old son.
Phillip Hernandez, 38, was arrested in 2013 for attacking Matthew Hernandez with a hatchet. On Friday, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
“He was such a beautiful kid. He was going to do great things,” said Matthew’s grandfather James Finley. “My wife and I were more parents than grandparents to him.”
It was February of 2013 when neighbors on Atrisco court in Natomas learned the horrific details. A 9-year-old boy was hit in the head with a hatchet in the hands of his father.
When police and firefighters got to the home, Matthew was already dead.
“There’s been so much violence against Jessica and boys. Again and again and again,” Finley said.
Court documents reveal Matthew may have been the victim of a long custody battle between Hernandez and his ex-wife Jessica.
“I look at that face and I think, who could hate a child like that?” Finley said. “Any child, but especially a child like that.”
Police say the night of the attack, Hernandez grabbed the hatchet from the backyard, walked back into the house, stood over his son who was sleeping on a couch and executed Matthew.
Hernandez was later convicted of murder.
Now Matthew’s grandfather says all his family has left are faded photographs and memories.
“They were so happy,” he said. “And this was just three months before his father killed him.”
Hernandez must also pay the family $14,000 in restitution.