Update: Last December, we told you about the arrest of Anthony Sena. As we reported, a months-long search conducted by the family of 77-year-old victim Susan Hernandez had led straight to him — her own grandson. Our previous coverage has been incorporated into this post.
At the time Sena was taken into custody in Pueblo, police were tight-lipped about a potential motive for the crime. But during his trial, which ended yesterday, prosecutors argued that Sena killed Hernandez and burned her body because of a dispute over a roofing job that she paid thousands for but he never completed, or even started. And while the defense tried to shoot holes in this theory, a jury found Sena guilty — a verdict that calls for the 29-year-old to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
As our original post noted, Hernandez's death was discovered on July 29, 2105 — though it initially seemed like something else entirely.
At about 10:30 a.m. on the 29th, according to the Pueblo Police Department, firefighters were dispatched to a home on the 600 block of Moffat in regard to a structure blaze.
Upon their arrival, they found a small conflagration burning inside the home, where Hernandez lived.
Shortly thereafter, Hernandez's body was found in the residence's basement.
The fire wasn't the cause of death, the Pueblo Chieftain reports. Rather, she died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Afterward, Hernandez's grieving loved ones shared images of her — and Sena did so as well.
Instead of posting a solo photo of Hernandez on his Facebook page, though, he shared a shot of her dancing with her husband, who died of cancer the previous January.
"I love you grandma and grandpa," Sena wrote. "You both have helped me so much over the years.. No matter what was going on in my life you both were there. My heart is broke and my mind a wonder without you both here.... I will forever cherish our memories shared together. God has his choice now. Love you!"
Here's that photo:
In the months that followed, little apparent progress was made in the investigation into Hernandez's death.
So, the following November, her family members took action, volunteering to distribute fliers about the case.
In an online post, one relative wrote, "Family and friends, please share this flier for this amazing woman, Susan Hernandez. For she deserves justice for this heinous crime that took place in July. Please help us bring the coward(s) to justice who committed this crime against her. If there is anyone out there who might have any information at all, please call Pueblo Crime Stoppers. Love and thanks to you all in advance."
The flier featured a favorite family snapshot of Hernandez:
These efforts continued into December, when family members were interviewed about the case by KRDO-TV.
Then, on December 14, Pueblo police announced that Sena had been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in Hernandez's death.
Why? The prosecution maintained that Hernandez had written two checks to Sena to pay for the repair of her roof; the amount totaled $8,000, the Pueblo Chieftain notes. However, Sena never fixed the roof and the money wasn't returned — and family members maintained that nothing else in Hernandez's life could explain why someone would want to kill her.
The defense reportedly countered by questioning the evidence against their client. For instance, they said, DNA found under Hernandez's fingernails after her death could have come from any male relative, not only Sena — and no blood evidence was discovered in either his home or his car.
Nevertheless, the jury in the case took only four hours to convict Sena of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree arson and theft. His sentence: life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Look below to see Sena's booking photo, followed by a KRDO-TV report broadcast prior to his arrest.