Veronica T. Herrera was supposed to start her first degree murder trial next week in connection with the death of her 2-year-old daughter Nakita last summer but the trial is now delayed until May.
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. Herrera is also charged with four counts of felony injury to child.
Herrera is now set to begin her jury trial May 14 in front of 3rd District Judge Thomas Ryan in Owyhee County. Herrera waived her speedy trial rights in late December so her attorneys could have more time to work on the case.
Owyhee Prosecutor Doug Emory said Thursday he would not seek the death penalty against Herrera, who could still be sent to prison for life, without parole, if found guilty of first degree murder.
An Owyhee County grand jury found late last year 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.
Prosecutors do not need to prove premeditation to charge first degree murder when the victim is under the age of 12, but they do need to prove that the death occurred in 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 Nampa 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.
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.
Each count of felony injury to child is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.