Marc Herrera, an Air Force major, died in the early morning hours of July 1, 2012, as a party for Ecuadorian exchange students at the couple’s foothills home was winding down. Amy Herrera was subsequently charged in her husband’s death, and after her case was dismissed twice and refiled a third time, she faced one count of second-degree murder at her long-awaited trial.
Following five days of testimony, jurors began deliberations Tuesday morning and returned their unanimous verdict just after 1 p.m.
The decision brings the five-year case to a close.
Herrera and her defense team left the courtroom quickly, and her attorney Eric Hannum declined a Journal request for comment on the verdict.
“Out of respect for Amy’s privacy, and out of respect for the family of Marc Herrera, there will be no comment from the defense at this time,” Hannum wrote in an email.
As students at the Herrera’s party readied for bed, Marc got upset with one, retrieved a pistol and pointed it at him, defense attorneys said. His wife intervened and led Marc into their bedroom.
Moments later, Marc was dead in the closet and Amy’s party dress was stained with blood. What happened in between remains unclear, but in the minutes after the shooting, Amy shouted to the students in her home that her husband killed himself. Her story changed later, prosecutors said, and at one point she told a friend she wished she could kill him again.
Prosecutors argued that Amy saw the perfect opportunity to eliminate a husband she was sick of, while defense attorneys countered that she was trapped in a bedroom with a drunk, hostile man who had just threatened a party guest with a loaded, racked pistol.
Prosecutor David Waymire said the verdict doesn’t exonerate Herrera and only means that the state didn’t have sufficient evidence to prove “what did happen in that closet.”
Marc Herrera’s family and friends filled much of the courtroom throughout the trial. And on Tuesday, his parents said they were disappointed by the verdict but relieved that the process was finally over.
“The verdict of not guilty does not change the truth and does not change the facts,” Marc’s mother, Marian Herrera, said. “I know who murdered my son.”