Homedale mom who burned 2-year-old in barrel sentenced to 30 years

September 5, 2013 

— A Homedale woman who killed her daughter, then burned her body in a barrel, received a lengthy prison sentence Thursday.

Veronica Thea Herrera was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She will have to serve 15 years before she is eligible for parole.

Herrera pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other felony charges in April in the killing of 2-year-old Nakita.

She turned herself in at the Nampa Police Department on Aug. 18, 2012, telling an officer that her child was hurt and that she had made it worse.

The woman told police that Nakita died after jumping off a potty training chair and hitting her head.

Herrera said she “freaked out,” worried that her other four children would be taken away if she went to police, and decided to burn the toddler’s body.

But a grand jury ruled that Nakita exhibited signs of torture and abuse before she died.

Prosecutors described how Herrera put the girl’s body into a burn barrel behind her Washington Street home, using lighter fluid to set it on fire. Nakita’s body was burned for two days. Prosecutors described how Herrera made her older children – ages 12, 9, 8 and 3 – feed the flames by adding debris to the barrel as their sister’s body burned.

Originally charged with first-degree murder, Herrera pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in April. She also admitted guilt in charges of destruction of evidence, injury to a child, failure to report a death and soliciting her children to help her burn Nakita’s body.

Owyhee County Prosecutor Doug Emory said in April that he would not seek the death penalty in the case.

Instead, Emory is asking Judge Thomas Ryan for a sentence of 40 years in prison, with 15 years fixed.

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