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Friday, December 19, 2014

Campus employee faces grand jury for murder

A UNM employee will face a grand jury on charges of second-degree murder after two previous failed indictment attempts.

A date for a grand jury trial against Amy Herrera has not yet been set. She is currently out on a $100,000 bond.

In July 2012, police were called to the home of Amy Herrera, a Health Sciences Center employee, where she and her husband Marc Herrera were holding a party for a UNM exchange student they were hosting, according to police reports.

In the police report, witnesses said Marc Herrera was intoxicated, and became angry when male and female partygoers were mingling in the same room. After he retrieved a firearm and tried to separate them, Amy pulled him into a closet.

When police arrived, they discovered Marc Herrera in the closet, dead of a gunshot wound. According to the police report, Amy Herrera originally claimed that her husband forced her to hold a gun to his head and pull the trigger, but at a hearing on Tuesday her attorney claimed her husband was abusive and that she was acting in self-defense.

At a special hearing held this week, prosecutors argued that Amy Herrera should be charged with first-degree murder, but on Wednesday Judge Briana Zamora ruled that there was insufficient probable cause, and that she would be charged instead with second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, District Attorney Spokeswoman Kayla Anderson said.

The DA’s office had indicted her twice before, the first time for first-degree murder. That charge was dismissed, and the office then tried to charge her with second-degree murder. The New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed that indictment because of improper jury instruction, according to court documents.

Zamora arraigned Amy Herrera immediately following the decision, the documents stated, and she pled “not guilty” to all charges.

UNM’s employee policy handbook states that once an employee is convicted of a felony, the university has proper and just cause to terminate the employee. However, the handbook has no clear policy regarding employees who are charged with felonies.

Late Thursday evening, UNM spokeswoman Dianne Anderson had no official comment on Amy Herrera, but said employees facing criminal charges are typically handled by their department on a case by case basis.

Editor’s note: The name of UNM spokesman Dianne Anderson was misspelled in the original version of this story.

Jonathan Baca is a news editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @JonGabrielB.