LABELLE -- Eliceo Hernandez was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to life in prison, for Second Degree Murder with a Firearm and Attempted Second Degree Murder, for killing off-duty Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Julian Keen Jr. on March 30.
A jury found the defendant guilty earlier this month following a trial in Hendry County.
Assistant State Attorney Andreas Gardiner and Assistant State Attorney Sara Miller, both of the State Attorney’s Office Homicide Unit, prosecuted the case.
The crime happened on June 14, 2020. Officer Keen was off-duty and at his LaBelle home with a friend, when they heard a loud crash. They looked outside and noticed a black truck leaving the scene of an accident. They both got into their personal vehicles and drove after the truck.
This continued along County Road 78, and through a convenience store parking lot, when the suspect turned north on Nobles Road. At that time, Officer Keen’s friend struck the black truck in the rear, causing it to go off the roadway. The suspect maintained control and traveled north a short distance before the truck was struck once again, trying to get it to stop. The suspect lost control and crashed into a ditch at Nobles Road and Apache Circle.
Officer Keen then drove into the convenience store parking lot and continued on foot to the crash scene. The defendant grabbed his gun and jumped out of his truck, and got into a waiting car, driven by his girlfriend. They drove around the block and came back to the crash scene and then he got out of the car and shot at both men. One bullet struck and killed Officer Keen.
Right after the shooting, the suspect got back in the car and left the scene. An investigation by the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office led to the location of the vehicle and the identification and arrest of the defendant for the crime.