EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The first day of the sentencing phase for Facundo Chavez began on Aug. 4th. Chavez was found guilty of capital murder on Aug. 3rd in the death of Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Herrera.
The state called several witnesses including detention officers and officials from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
However, it was when Herrera’s family and former supervisor took the stand that the jury had an understand of who Herrera was. First to the stand was Lt. Ricardo Perales, who was Herrera’s supervisor before his death.
Perales said that Herrera was a one-of-a-kind officer and person. He explained that Herrera would often respond to calls that were not his to help out his fellow officers.
Herrera was known to buy gifts for families in need in the Fabens and Tornillo area during Christmas time with his own money.
When Perales was asked how Herrera’s death affected the station, he described it as a nightmare. Perales said deputies were no longer the same and kept hoping that Herrera would one day walk through the door.
Perales described how he feels survivor’s guilt as it is his job as a supervisor to make sure all his deputies make it home. He said since Herrera didn’t make it home the night he was killed, Perales will have to live with it the rest of his life.
Peter Herrera’s older brother Luis also took the stand to reflect on his brother. He described him as the joy that brought the family together.
Luis Herrera showed pictures of his family, including Peter, to the jury when they were all younger. He asked the jury to picture a bomb exploding and having the shrapnel tear his family apart when describing the loss of his brother.
“I saw a look in my parents eyes that I’ve never seen before and to this day, they sometimes still get that look,” Luis Herrera said.
Herrera said he doesn’t know when the healing process will begin but that they have not be able to start.
The last to take the stand was Herrera’s wife, Ashely. Married for four month prior to his death, Ashley Herrera remembers her husband as a man who loved his family.
She faced the jury to say that there are not enough words to describe the pain she felt when she heard her doorbell ring the night of his death. Herrera said that while Chavez’s family may receive visitation rights, her family will never have the option to see Peter Herrera again.
Judge Diana Navarrete excused the jury at the conclusion of Ashley Herrera’s testimony. Sentencing is expected to resume on Monday, Aug. 7.
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