Man pleads not guilty after being charged for first-degree murder of mother of his children

Cesar Santana, 37, pleaded not guilty in court in connection to the death of 33-year-old Luz Hernandez, the mother of his three kids.

Eliecer Marte and Rob Taub

May 25, 2023, 8:11 PM

Updated 331 days ago

Share:

A man accused of killing the mother of his three children pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday.
Cesar Santana, 37, was charged with first-degree murder in connection to the death of 33-year-old Luz Hernandez. On Feb. 7, Hernandez’s body was found in a shallow grave in Kearny.
Santana's attorney, Edward Bilinkas told News 12 they are fighting all the charges, which also include hindering, failing to dispose of human remains and tampering with physical evidence.
“Again, based on what I see and my discussions with him, that's our position with him and I feel comfortable with that,” he said.
Bilinkas added his team is waiting on all the discovery from the prosecutors for them to continue building their defense. When Hernandez’s body was found, and autopsy revealed the 33-year-old had been strangled and suffered blunt force head trauma.
"We haven't seen everything yet, once we do that, we will address whatever is out there,” he acknowledged.
Hernandez's family says won't accept a not guilty plea from Hernandez.
A second man identified as 26-year-old Leinier Miranda Lopez remains at large in connection to Hernandez’s death. He also faces the same charges including first-degree murder.
Santana is expected to be back in court on Sep. 11.


More from News 12
0:14
Police: 7-year-old struck by car in Newark; driver fled scene

Police: 7-year-old struck by car in Newark; driver fled scene

2:09
Cool temperatures and cloudy skies in New Jersey

Cool temperatures and cloudy skies in New Jersey

0:33
Police: 46 dogs rescued from fire at industrial complex in Fairfield

Police: 46 dogs rescued from fire at industrial complex in Fairfield

1:30
New Jersey residents enjoyed warm spring temps ahead of chilly, windy evening

New Jersey residents enjoyed warm spring temps ahead of chilly, windy evening

0:17
Police: Man dies, 2 others injured following shooting in Newark

Police: Man dies, 2 others injured following shooting in Newark

1:32
Jersey City Night Market holds 5th straight celebration

Jersey City Night Market holds 5th straight celebration

0:25
Police: Pedestrian fatally struck by car in Gloucester Township

Police: Pedestrian fatally struck by car in Gloucester Township

0:25
Camden County rabbi convicted of hiring men to kill his wife dies in prison

Camden County rabbi convicted of hiring men to kill his wife dies in prison

Knicks beat 76ers 111-104 in Game 1 of playoffs. Brunson and Hart score 22 points and backups star

Knicks beat 76ers 111-104 in Game 1 of playoffs. Brunson and Hart score 22 points and backups star

0:13
Authorities: Kenilworth man sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling cocaine

Authorities: Kenilworth man sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling cocaine

0:15
Authorities: Berkley Township man sentenced to 20 years in prison for fatal stabbing

Authorities: Berkley Township man sentenced to 20 years in prison for fatal stabbing

0:28
Man who set himself on fire outside Trump trial dies of injuries, police say

Man who set himself on fire outside Trump trial dies of injuries, police say

1:13
CDC: Children ER visits increased last 3 years for accidental Melatonin ingestion

CDC: Children ER visits increased last 3 years for accidental Melatonin ingestion

1:42
Police: Marlboro teacher accused of inappropriately touching student faces charges

Police: Marlboro teacher accused of inappropriately touching student faces charges

0:32
Man who lit himself on fire outside Trump trial has ties to New Jersey

Man who lit himself on fire outside Trump trial has ties to New Jersey

0:56
Graffiti of former Palestinian militant Leila Khaled found spray-painted at Rutgers University

Graffiti of former Palestinian militant Leila Khaled found spray-painted at Rutgers University

0:09
Police: 2 men critically injured in Newark shooting

Police: 2 men critically injured in Newark shooting

2:16
Public warned to keep their dogs away from seals at the Jersey Shore

Public warned to keep their dogs away from seals at the Jersey Shore

0:59
Jersey Proud: 3 men running the length of New Jersey for ‘Dylan’s Wings of Change’ charity

Jersey Proud: 3 men running the length of New Jersey for ‘Dylan’s Wings of Change’ charity

0:35
Tesla recalling nearly 4,000 Cybertrucks because accelerator pedal can get stuck

Tesla recalling nearly 4,000 Cybertrucks because accelerator pedal can get stuck