Shooter identified in 2008 murder

District Attorney Tim Ward announces charges against Luis Villarreal relating to a cold case murder from 14 years ago

VISALIA – After discovering new evidence through DNA testing, a suspect has been identified in a cold case murder from 2008.

According to the District Attorney’s office, on July 13 District Attorney Tim Ward announced criminal charges relating to the 2008 shooting death of Hernan Diaz, 21.

In this case, a potential lead was discovered through the testing of DNA and Luis Villarreal, 34, was identified as the person responsible for murdering Hernan Diaz.

On July 8 when charges were filed, Villarreal was in local custody for recent misdemeanor convictions. Villarreal was arraigned on charges and pleaded not guilty on July 11. He is currently held without bail.

Villarreal is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing conference on Monday, July 18 in Department 19. If convicted, Villarreal faces life in prison.

Villarreal has been charged with one count of murder with special allegations that he intentionally discharged a firearm and caused great bodily injury. Additional charges include possession of prior strike and felony convictions with a deadly weapon in 2007 and he was on felony probation when the offense was committed.

It is alleged that late in the evening of Aug. 12, 2008, Villarreal shot Diaz multiple times through Diaz’s bedroom window with a .40 caliber handgun as part of a gang hit. This was at a Tulare apartment complex at 1309 E. Birch. Following the shooting, the Tulare Police Department collected evidence and interviews, but no arrests were made at the time.

In 2019, the TCDA Bureau of Investigations formed a Cold Case Homicide Unit with the cooperation and mutual assistance of several allied agencies. This case represents the success law enforcement can have solving cases that went stale over time.

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