Veronica T. Herrera is still set to begin a jury trial in January but now the charge is first-degree murder instead of felony destruction of evidence.
Herrera is also charged with four counts of felony injury to child filed in connection with the death of her 2-year-old daughter Nakita earlier this year. The 29-year-old Herrera was originally accused of burning the body of her 2-year-old daughter in a burn barrel at her Homedale residence in August. Now she is accused of killing the toddler as well.
The grand jury found that Herrera, "with the intentional application of torture," intentionally inflicted "extreme and prolonged pain," by "inflicting repeated acts of blunt force trauma upon (Nakita) by means of physical force ... emotional abuse, and/or lack of physical and/or medical care, which caused bruising, pain, burns, broken bones, and injuries," that led to the toddler's death on Aug. 16.
Grand jurors also found the abuse that led to the toddler's death occurred between July 1 to Aug. 16, according to court records obtained by the Idaho Statesman.
A first degree murder charge requires evidence of premeditation or that the killing occurred during the commission of another crime.
Herrera told police Nakita was fatally injured after she hit her head while potty training Aug. 15. Herrera also said was scared and "freaked out" about the possibility of losing custody of her other children if she told police what happened, so she decided to burn the toddlers body, according to court documents obtained by the Idaho Statesman.
Herrera ended up turning herself into police on Aug. 18 and confessing, according to court records. She is being held in the Owyhee County Jail on a $1 million bond as she waits for the trial to begin in January.
Herrera was being held on one count of destruction of evidence until she was indicted by an Owyhee County grand jury on the additional charges last week. Her jury trial is still set to begin Jan. 29 in front of Third District Judge Thomas Ryan but that will likely be delayed now that Herrera is charged with first-degree murder.
According to court records obtained by the Idaho Statesman, Herrera told police that her daughter Nakita, who just turned 2 in August, jumped off her potty chair during training and hit her head on a heater. Herrera said that led to Nakitas death hours later.
To make sure that no one found Nakita, Herrera told police, she put the body in a barrel behind her house on Washington Street and started a blaze Aug. 16 that burned for as long as two days.
Herrera is charged with four counts of felony injury to child because she is accused of having her four other kids ages 12, 9, 8 and 3 "assist in the burning" of Nakita's body, according to the grand jury indictment. Court records say Herrera is accused of having her kids put items in the burn barrel to keep it going.
On the morning of Aug. 18, Herrera walked up to an officer outside a Nampa police station. Crying, she told the officer that she did something bad, that her child was hurt and that she made it worse, according to documents.
Later, Herrera told a Nampa police detective that "God will never forgive her" for what she has done, according to probable cause documents obtained by the Statesman.
First-degree murder is punishable by up to life in prison. It is possible Emory could seek the death penalty for Herrera.
Each count of felony injury to child is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.