Timothy Paul Hernandez of Mount Vernon pleaded not guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in the death of his 27-year-old girlfriend.
Vanessa Cons was found beheaded in the couples’ Mount Vernon bedroom on Aug. 25. She had multiple stab wounds on her head and back, according to a probable cause affidavit.
On Thursday, Skagit County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula said two children discovered the body about 12:45 p.m. after returning home from church.
Hernandez, 32, was located that day at Cascade Mall in Burlington with a daughter he shared with Cons, documents state. The 3-year-old told investigators she saw Hernandez cut Cons with scissors.
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“We have reason to believe he did it in front of his youngest child,” Kaholokula said.
Hernandez’ charge of first-degree murder with a domestic violence enhancement carries a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison.
During an interview with police, Hernandez told officers he killed Cons after speaking with God, documents state. Hernandez said God told him to strike down Cons if she did not repent.
Hernandez quoted two Bible verses to investigators, each that spoke of God striking down women for not following God’s word, stated the documents.
Investigators at the residence found a large butcher knife in the kitchen sink with blood and hair on the handle, as well as bloody clothing in a laundry basket, according to documents.
In court Thursday, Hernandez’ defense attorney C.W. Richards asked for his client to be released from jail or his $1 million bail to be reduced, stating Hernandez could reside with his sister in Mount Vernon.
Kaholokula opposed release and bail reduction based upon the first-degree murder charge, as well as past offenses including failing to register as a sex offender, violating a protection order and a 2001 conviction for incest.
She said the position of the Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is that $1 million bail is not high enough.
Skagit County Superior Court Judge Brian Stiles maintained bail at $1 million, and imposed no-contact orders between Hernandez and the three children involved.