Mom Kills & Burns Baby In Barrel
CALDWELL, IDAHO - Court records say Veronica Herrera of Homedale told investigators she 'freaked out' after her daughter Nakita jumped off a potty chair, hit her head on a heater and died hours later last August.
The 29-year-old told police she put the toddler in a playpen after her injury and asked her 9-year-old son to watch her while she took some of her other children to her sister's home in Caldwell, according to documents.
Herrera told police she later called her son and asked how Nakita was doing and he said she was sleeping.
When she came home later that night, she told investigators she noticed a large bump on Nakita's head and realized the child wasn't breathing.
Herrera says she burned the body out of fear of losing custody of her children.
Prosecutors said Herrera told police that she put the toddler's body in the back of her van that night, and that the next morning she walked to the store to buy lighter fluid, put the body in the barrel and set it on fire.
She told police that she had her other children put garbage in the barrel to keep the fire burning, but the remains were still recognizable by the next morning so she bought more lighter fluid, according to the court records.
She told police she didn't think any of her children realized their sister was in the barrel but added that her 9-year-old 'is a smart kid and might have known,' according to the Idaho Statesman reports.
Herrera made the statements to police after she told her parents about the death and they drove her to the police station.
The officer who met her described her as hysterical and crying that 'God will never forgive her.'
She admitted something bad had happened to her daughter and that she had made it worse.
Herrera initially was charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on April 11.
She pleaded guilty to failure to report a death, destroying evidence and three counts of injury to a child.
Owyhee County Prosecutor Doug Emery says two injury charges relate to Herrera having two of her children help burn the body.
Herrera is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25.
Emery is seeking 15 to 40 years in prison for her.
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