For Immediate Release - March 28, 2012

Lawrence Man Found Guilty of First Degree Murder

An Essex County jury found Jose Cotto Hernandez, 54, guilty of first degree murder today in Salem Superior Court. Judge David Lowy imposed the mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. 

Essex Assistant District Attorney James Gubitose proved that Hernandez shot and killed Roberto Plaza, 33, of Lawrence on June 7, 2009 after the two had an argument.  Initially, when police responded to the Hampshire Street scene, they believed that Plaza was the victim of an automobile accident.  While emergency medical personnel tended to him, they discovered a bullet wound in his chest. 

After a six month investigation by the Lawrence Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office, Hernandez was arrested.  He was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on murder charges on December 23, 2009.

Gubitose was second seated by Essex Assistant District Attorney Christina Ronan.  He praised the work of Lawrence Police officers Carlos Veiera and the late Brian Burokas as well as Massachusetts State Police Troopers Steve O’Connor and Anthony Schena.