Hearings of two individuals connected to ECC student’s death are postponed

The hearings of two suspects accused of murdering an El Camino College student were postponed until Sept. 21 for unknown reasons.

Ethan Kedar Astaphan, 27, and Sonita Heng, 20, were both charged in the Sept. 22, 2020 death of 21-year-old El Camino College student Juan Carlos Hernández, a news release by the District Attorney’s office read.

Astaphan will have a preliminary “setting/resetting” hearing and Heng will have a “probation and sentence hearing,” according to the LA court’s case calendar.

Hernández, a part-time engineering student at ECC, was reported missing last September by his family after having failed to make it home from his night shift at the VIP Collective LA, a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles.

Astaphan, of San Gabriel, faces one count of murder. If found guilty, he may serve the possible maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. Heng, of Harbor City, faces one count of accessory after the fact and can face up to three years in prison.

A joint effort by the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division, the San Bernardino’s Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, the San Bernardino’s Sheriff’s Homicide, and the FBI led to the discovery of Hernández’s remains on Nov. 15, 2020. The remains were hidden in a shallow grave in the Mojave Desert.

According to court records, Astaphan continues to be held on a $10 million bail, while Heng was released on her own recognizance in January.

The hearings will be pushed back to Sept. 21, 2021, at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Justice Center in Los Angeles, according to the criminal case calendar on the LA Court website.

EDITORS NOTE: Title was fixed for clarity Sept. 13.