EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Arlene Pina, who was initially charged with Capital Murder in the slaying of El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Herrera in 2019, was given a 15-year sentence as part of a plea deal Monday.

Pina, who was 20 at the time of Deputy Herrera’s murder, appeared before County Criminal District Court #1 Judge Diane Navarette Monday, pleading guilty to Manslaughter.

As part of the plea, she will serve 15 years in prison.

The previous District Attorney, Jaime Esparza, filed a notice he would be seeking the death penalty against Pina and her co-defendant Facundo Chavez. A court date has not yet been set for Chavez’s trial.

“I think it was the best outcome for all parties involved. Arlene accepted responsibility for her participation,” said Pina’s defense attorney, Joe Spencer. “Obviously, she was not the shooter. Obviously, she did not know it was going to happen, but her conduct was reckless, and that’s what she plead to.”

Spencer went on to say he feels “just as bad for the Herrera family as for her family.”

District Attorney’s Office told KTSM that “the State continues to seek the death penalty against Mr. Chavez on a charge of Capital Murder for his role in the shooting.”

Family, DA’s Office Share Comments on Plea Deal

As the plea was announced, Deputy Herrera’s family was visibly shaken as they left court Monday morning, declining to speak with the media.

Later in the day, Deputy Herrera’s Aunt reached out to KTSM on behalf of the family, saying

Peter was my sister’s oxygen. He loved being a sheriff’s deputy and he was the light of our lives.  The decision today felt like losing him all over again. I hate the message this sends to local law enforcement,  

Paulina Hijar, Peter’s Aunt.

KTSM reached out to Sheriff Richard Wiles for a statement on the case, his staff said he was unavailable.

As for the District Attorney’s reaction, the DA’s office released the following statement:

Arlene Pina (23) pleaded guilty today and was sentenced to 15 years to serve in prison for the March 22,
2019, death of Sheriff’s Deputy Peter J. Herrera. Ms. Pina was the passenger in the car being driven by
codefendant Facundo Chavez, who exited his vehicle and allegedly shot Deputy Herrera during a traffic
stop in the lower valley community of San Elizario. The State continues to seek the death penalty
against Mr. Chavez on a charge of Capital Murder for his role in the shooting. The family of Deputy
Herrera does not wish to make any statement at this time and requests that their privacy be respected
while the case against Facundo Chavez remains pending. A trial date for Mr. Chavez has not been set

Office of the District Attorney

March 22, 2019

Deputy Herrera was killed during a traffic stop in San Elizario on March 22, 2019, when EPCSO investigators say he pulled over a car driven by Chavez on Chicken Ranch Road around 1:50 a.m. for failure to dim high beam headlines and improperly displaying a dealer plate.

When Herrera told Chavez to exit the car, Chavez allegedly pulled a gun from his waist area and began to fire at close range.

Facundo Chavez

The Sheriff’s Office said that one of several bullets struck Herrera in the back of the head. Several other shots hit his body armor, officials said.

According to court documents, Chavez allegedly began hitting Herrera after the shots were fired.

According to documents, Pina allegedly got out of the car, approached the men, and said, “Beat that f—–” in Spanish.

Chavez told investigators that Pina attempted to take Herrera’s handgun, according to an arrest affidavit.

Investigators say the blood on her hands showed she had contact with the deputy during the assault.

Chavez’s car later stalled at Chicken Ranch and Socorro Roads, and the two suspects ran away. Border Patrol agents found them hiding in a nearby shed at about 3 a.m.

Pina initially told investigators a third person was in the car, which was proven wrong by dashcam footage.

She admitted to lying and allegedly told investigators she didn’t want to get in trouble because she had a restraining order against Chavez and knew Chavez had a gun clipped to him.

According to an arrest affidavit, she also told investigators she “wanted to get out of the vehicle because [Chavez] told her that he was going to shoot the cop,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Deputy Peter Herrera – Photo courtesy EPCSO

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