NM man, 26, gets 4 consecutive life sentences for 'gruesome' day - Albuquerque Journal

NM man, 26, gets 4 consecutive life sentences for ‘gruesome’ day

Damian Herrera is led into a First District courtroom by Sheriff’s deputies for his sentencing hearing Friday January 6, 2022. Herrera had been convicted of murdering 4 people in 2017 and was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A judge on Friday ensured that Damian Herrera will die in prison for the 2017 shooting deaths of his mother, brother and stepfather at the family’s home in Rio Arriba County, and a fourth killing in Abiquiú.

District Judge Jason Lidyard sentenced Herrera, 26, to four consecutive life sentences for the four first-degree murder convictions, plus 9½ years for seven other felonies.

“You have shown this court that you have a penchant for extreme violence and that the only way to protect the community from you is to remove you from it,” Lidyard said before handing down the sentence.

Damian Herrera listens to people address the court during his sentencing hearing in First Judicial District Court on Friday. Judge Jason Lidyard sentenced Herrera to 4 consecutive life sentences for murdering four people in 2017. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The sentence was met with subdued cheers from members of two families who lost loved ones during Herrera’s two-county shooting rampage on Jan. 15, 2017.

Herrera has yet to be tried for a fifth fatal shooting the same day in rural Taos County.

Carissa Herrera, Damian Herrera’s sister, asked the judge to sentence her brother to life without possibility of parole. She had just turned 16 when she witnessed the killings of three family members.

She recalled how her mother, Maria Rosita “Brenda” Gallegos, 49, begged for her life before Damian Herrera shot her once in the head.

Gallegos died the following day. Carissa described the killings for jurors at her brother’s trial.

“I will never be the same because Damian ruined my life,” she said. “I have a hard time trusting people because it was my own family, my own blood, who did this. He has split my family apart and did so much damage that I will never recover from.”

Damian Herrera, who chose not to speak Friday, showed little emotion throughout the hearing. His attorney, Todd Farkas, said Herrera maintains his innocence and intends to appeal the verdicts.

Herrera testified in his own defense, telling jurors that he had no responsibility for any of the shootings and implicating other family members.

Jurors also found Herrera guilty of fatally shooting his stepfather, Max Trujillo Sr., 55, and his brother, Brendon Herrera, 20. Both died at the scene. The three family members all were fatally shot outside the family’s home in the small community of La Madera, about 30 miles north of Española.

About five hours later, Herrera shot Manuel Serrano, 59, a stranger to Herrera, multiple times in the back as he filled up at a gas station in Abiquiú, about 25 miles southwest of La Madera. Serrano died at the scene.

Angela Stewart reacts as Judge Jason Lidyard sentences Damian Herrera on January 7, 2022, to 4 consecutive life sentences for the murder of her father Manuel Serrano and 3 other people in 2017. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

“Nothing since that gruesome day has been the same,” Serrano’s daughter, Angela Stewart, said during the hearing.

“Without him, there is no more comfort or joy or peace in our lives,” she said. “My mother was everything to him and he showed it daily. He absolutely adored her.”

Jurors convicted Herrera of 11 felony charges in all, including aggravated fleeing from law officers, attempt to disarm a law officer, assaulting a law officer, possession of a stolen vehicle and other crimes.

Herrera is charged separately in the shooting death of Michael Alan Kyte, 61, a retired U.S. Forest Service archaeologist who was found shot to death on Forest Road 222 in far western Taos County.

Kyte’s death occurred the same day as the other four killings, police say.

Herrera faces charges of first-degree murder and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle for allegedly killing Kyte and taking his pickup.

That trial has not been scheduled.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » NM man, 26, gets 4 consecutive life sentences for ‘gruesome’ day


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Five jails statewide are less than 50% staffed
ABQnews Seeker
An Otero County facility has even ... An Otero County facility has even started transferring inmates
2
Street Food Institute breaks ground on new home in ...
ABQnews Seeker
New building will triple program's size New building will triple program's size
3
New Mexico unemployment rate drops to 4.5%
ABQnews Seeker
State still tied for highest in ... State still tied for highest in nation; leaders say many jobs still available
4
Gallup couple awarded more than $116,000 in damages
ABQnews Seeker
Workers' rights organizations to use victory ... Workers' rights organizations to use victory as template for new initiative
5
BCSO detains suspect in stabbing, fire in bosque south ...
ABQnews Seeker
Deputies have arrested a man accused ... Deputies have arrested a man accused of stabbing a person and starting a fire Friday morning in the bosque in Southwest Albuquerque. Bernalillo County ...
6
APD: Two dead in apparent murder-suicide in San Jose ...
ABQnews Seeker
A man and a woman were ... A man and a woman were found fatally shot Friday morning at a San Jose-area home in what police are calling a murder-suicide. Lt. ...
7
‘Just go for it’: New food truck dishing up ...
ABQnews Seeker
“Dude. You have to sell these.” ... “Dude. You have to sell these.” That’s what Laura Gonzalez’s friend and coworker at First Nations Community HealthSource always told her after eating her ...
8
Innovate ABQ still rebounding from pandemic
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque's innovation district is still navigating ... Albuquerque's innovation district is still navigating through the aftermath of the global pand ...
9
Tech-transfer slowly rebounding at Rainforest Innovations
ABQnews Seeker
Rainforest Innovations' fiscal year 2022 technology-transfer ... Rainforest Innovations' fiscal year 2022 technology-transfer achievements clearly reflect today's post-pandemic trends, with entrepreneurial interest by UNM faculty and investor pursuit of university inventions ...