4/24/2014

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Crime

Mom who burned toddler's body sentenced to 30 years

Mom who burned toddler's body sentenced to 30 years

MURPHY, Idaho (KBOI) - A Homedale mom who pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter for killing her two-year-old daughter by burning her body in barrel has been sentenced to 30 years in prison

Veronica Herrera was back in court Thursday, where attorneys spent several hours questioning witnesses and examining evidence from within the case to determine how long she will spend in prison.

A judge sentenced Herrera to serve a minimum of 15 years in prison before she'll be eligible for parole.

" I love her very much and I know what I did was wrong and I am here to take responsibility for my actions," Herrera said. "I just want everybody to know i'm so sorry for what I did I really don't know how to explain my actions"

Veronica's mother, Robyn, testified in front of the court Thursday, emotionally recalling the details of the day her granddaughter, Nikita Herrera, was killed. 

Veronica had told police Nikita died after falling off of her kiddy potty and bumping her head on the heater. Robyn Herrera told the court that her daughter came to her house crying afterwards, saying she had "made something worse than it was," by then burning the child's body. 

Robyn said her daughter was scared to notify the authorities because she was afraid of how they would react. 

"She didnt want the children taken away because she worked so hard to get them back," Robyn Herrera said. "She did all the programs, she got off the drugs and she didn't want her children to get taken away."

Prosecutors discount the story, saying they believe Veronica abused and neglected Nikita before she was killed. Dr. Paul McPherson, a pediatrician at St. Lukes Children Hospital who specializes in dealing wih child abuse and neglect, says that type of fall would very be very unlikely to cause trauma or death.

"We call them short falls, or household falls," McPherson said. "Medical literature indicates that it is less than one in one million that fall from a short height that might have any significant injury or death."

A forensic anthropolgist told the judge they were able to recovery 85 percent of the bones burned, but that they couldn't identify the cause of death specifically. 

The judge said Veronica Herrera could face up to 40 years in prison for her crimes, but will wait to hear closing arguments until Friday morning. 

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