ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A woman who has twice avoided trial for the death of her husband because the indictments were dismissed is now facing criminal charges by another proceeding – a preliminary hearing.
Second District Judge Briana Zamora is conducting the probable cause hearing based on first-degree murder charges filed by the District Attorney’s Office, not a grand jury, against Amy Herrera.
The criminal information against Herrera, 32, also includes lesser charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter for Zamora to consider. They relate to the July 1, 2012, shooting death of her husband, 37-year-old Marc Herrera, a former Air Force officer found in the closet of the family home.
The husband’s death was initially ruled a suicide – he had a gunshot wound to the head after putting a gun inside or very close to his mouth – but the Office of the Medical Investigator ruled Herrera had not killed himself.
The shooting occurred during a party for foreign students from Ecuador. According to testimony Monday, Marc Herrera had been drinking heavily and had become frustrated while trying to segregate male and female students in separate bedrooms at the Herrera home and pointed a gun to enforce compliance. After his wife tried to intervene and calm the situation, she went to the walk-in closet in the master bedroom suite and he joined her.
That’s when she said her husband put the gun barrel in his mouth and asked her to fire the weapon. According to police, Amy Herrera said her husband said he would make it easy for her, telling her the gun was loaded and cocked and allegedly saying, “Just pull the trigger.”
Testimony Monday was that post-mortem toxicology results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.229, almost three times the presumed level of intoxication for driving.
Amy Herrera’s attorney, Eric Hannum, sought dismissal of the information as he had in the two previous indictments.
The first indictment was dismissed by the DA’s Office on technical grounds and the second indictment, on second-degree murder charges, was ordered dismissed by the Supreme Court based on prosecution missteps.
Zamora denied that request, finding “unpersuasive” Hannum’s argument that the prosecution benefited from its own misconduct.
Testifying Monday were the first responding officer, a firearms examiner and a field investigations detective from APD and a forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Marc Herrera’s body.
The hearing continues today. The television news show “48 Hours” is taping the proceeding.