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Lompoc man pleads guilty to 2017 murder of ex-girlfriend

Jorge Tovar Hernandez pleaded guilty for murder in the first degree.
Posted at 6:55 PM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 22:44:14-05

On Easter Sunday in 2017, authorities found the body of Elyse Erwin, 28, in the parking lot of an Orcutt apartment complex.

Investigators say Erwin was shot in the back of the head. Police arrested her ex-boyfriend and the father of her child, Jorge Tovar Fernandez.

On Thursday, almost six years later, Tovar Fernandez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder at the Santa Maria Superior Court.

“We didn’t understand why all of a sudden he was going to plea. We don’t know. He’s the type that has an angle to it. Regardless, we’re happy with the results,” said Erin Erwin, Elyse's father.

There were delays in the case due to scheduling issues and the COVID-19 pandemic. The trial was set to start in February.

“Some of us this morning felt like our life could just move on now, and that’s what I wished for the entire family, so we’re going to start moving on, start our healing process,” Erwin said.

The judge set the sentencing date for February 24. Tovar Fernandez is expected to get 25 years to life.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a press release, "This horrific murder was the worst kind of domestic violence. It occurred years after the couple separated but the defendant continued to engage in relentless stalking behavior. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any form of domestic violence, or is being stalked, please call 911; in doing so you could become a life saver."

KSBY reached out to Domestic Violence Solutions in Santa Barbara County and they said they've received 508 referrals from local law enforcement this year alone.

Also in 2022, the organization has received 4,917 calls to its crisis line.

The 24/7 crisis line for Domestic Violence Solutions is (805) 964-5245. In San Luis Obispo County, you can call Lumina Alliance at (805) 545-8888.