A driver who was being chased by police when he struck and killed a man walking his dog in Long Beach pleaded no contest to murder and multiple other crimes Friday as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Jyvante West, the 30-year-old suspect from Northern California, was scheduled to go to trial next week. Instead, he was sentenced Friday to 19 years and 4 months in prison after pleading no contest to murder, animal cruelty, commercial burglary, evading police and gross vehicular manslaughter.

The murder, animal cruelty, and gross vehicular manslaughter charge stem from the death of 32-year-old Jose Hernandez and his chihuahua Harley on May 26, 2020. Prosecutors said West hit them in Downtown Long Beach while fleeing police after a burglary.

Pictures of Jose Hernandez taped to a utility pole at the intersection of Magnolia and 6th Street, where he was killed by a driver fleeing police on May 26, 2020. Photo by Jeremiah Dobruck.

West was visiting Los Angeles with a group of people when someone brought up the idea of robbing a marijuana dispensary, according to his attorney Ted Batsakis.

That night, West and others set out to burglarize a dispensary in West Long Beach, according to authorities. Police say they were called to reports of people cutting down marijuana plants at the dispensary sometime after 11 p.m.

Police said officers quickly responded to the scene and took three suspects into custody, but one suspect, later identified as West, took off in a 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Police said West led them on a 5-minute chase through Long Beach streets, along with the 103 and 710 freeways, speeding through a red light before crashing into Hernandez, who was crossing Sixth Street at Magnolia Avenue with Harley, according to prosecutors.

Hernandez and his dog both died at the scene.

West, meanwhile, continued driving until he crashed with a nearby fence, according to prosecutors. He was taken into custody and has remained jailed ever since.

During the hearing Friday, the 30-year-old expressed some trepidation about accepting the plea deal offered by prosecutors that required him to waive his right to a trial and spend two decades in prison.

“I’m going against everything I know,” West said in court, adding that he felt he was being asked to put faith in a system that had never been fair to him. “I’m trying to make it home.”

Judge Laura Laesecke, however, asked West to consider the offer carefully given that if a jury were to find him guilty, according to prosecutors, he’d likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

“What little I know about this case … there’s very good evidence that it was you that killed this gentleman,” Laesecke said. “What do you expect the jury to do?”

As Batsakis made the case for his client in court, he said that West had a rough upbringing in Oakland. He was born in 1993 during one of his mother’s prison stints and he never really had a mentor in his father, who was also in and out of his life before being killed around the time West was 9 or 10 years old.

Throughout his life, even as he tried to make improvements, there always appeared to be a setback, Batsakis said. But around the time West turned 25, shortly after a stint in prison, he started turning his life around, getting a job at a barbershop and avoiding hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Then, his girlfriend was murdered during a robbery in Oakland, Batsakis said. Soon, he started falling into the wrong crowd again until, ultimately, it led to his arrest for Hernandez’s killing in 2020.

But West has always been remorseful of his actions, Batsakis said, and the first time they met he cried to him about it.

He said West never intended to kill anyone, and that he was here now in court “hoping to do good.”

“I can feel the pain,” Laesecke said. “But we also can’t forget the pain of the family of the gentleman who was killed.”

She added that though she hopes West makes good decisions moving forward, there is still another family who will always be affected by his actions and won’t ever get to spend time with their loved one again.

“Nothing is ever going to bring that gentleman back and his family will always be in pain,” Laesecke said.