A man who landed a single, fatal punch upon his stalked robbery victim along Hennepin Avenue after bar closing time more than two years ago now has been charged with murder, authorities said.
Ethan Z. Hayes, 33, currently imprisoned in Stillwater on an unrelated assault conviction, was charged Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court with second-degree murder.
Hayes, who was with two other men, is accused of being the person who struck Adrian Hernandez, 44, of Minneapolis, on Aug. 22, 2013. Hayes allegedly sucker-punched Hernandez in the face, sending him to the pavement, where he hit his head and suffered a fatal brain injury.
Hernandez was well-known in the Latino community as a Mexican folk dancer and founder of a troupe called Mexico Lindo.
Guilty pleas to second-degree murder have been made by the accomplices, Andrew M. Myers, 24, formerly of St. Louis Park, and Vereice D. Washington, 22, of Brooklyn Center. Sentencings for the two are pending.
It wasn’t until more than a year after the ambush that police could determine the identity of the man who threw the fatal punch, according to the criminal complaint.
But Washington, who was arrested soon after the attack, viewed surveillance video from that night and told police in September 2014 that the mystery perpetrator who punched Hernandez was known to him as “Chill/Big Loc,” the complaint continued.
Police Sgt. Chris Karakostas “further identified” Chill/Big Loc as Hayes, who entered prison in February of this year on the unrelated assault conviction. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Friday that “information from people on the street” led to Hayes’ identity.
According to the charges against the three men:
Washington saw an intoxicated Hernandez near Augie’s bar on Hennepin Avenue about 2:30 a.m. Police routinely caution bar and restaurant patrons not to increase the chances of being a crime victim by leaving establishments alone late at night, particularly in an intoxicated state.
Washington asked to borrow Hernandez’s cellphone, but Hernandez refused. Washington kept walking near Hernandez and was soon joined by Myers and Hayes. As they walked south, the trio plotted to rob Hernandez.
When they reached the corner of Hennepin and 10th Street, Myers moved to the right side of Hernandez, who turned toward Myers. Then Hayes punched Hernandez.
Hernandez fell, striking his head on the concrete. Washington rifled the pockets of the unconscious and bleeding Hernandez, stole his cellphone and all three men ran away.
Hospital staff told investigators soon after the assault that Hernandez was bleeding from the nose and mouth, suffered multiple skull fractures and cranial bleeding, according to police records.