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Woman charged in death of El Paso Deputy Peter Herrera takes plea deal; family delivers impact statements


EL PASO, Texas – A woman charged in the March 2019 murder of El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy Pete Herrera has reached a plea deal.

On Monday morning, Arlene Piña was sentenced to 15 years on a reduced charge of manslaughter.

Piña has already served three years in prison.

Piña sat in the courtroom, showing no emotion as Herrera's widow, Ashley Herrera, explained with tears in her eyes how her husband's slaying affected the entire family. Ashley Herrera told Piña she was disgusted that Piña had been given a "slap on the wrist" for murdering her husband.

She told Piña directly, "Arlene, you are inhumane."

Deputy Herrera's sister, Melissa Herrera, gave her statement virtually. She held a picture of Herrera to the camera and told Piña to look at the picture and remember what she had done to him and the Herrera family.

Piña pleaded not guilty back on July 11, 2019, on a capital murder charge. Manslaughter is punishable by two to 20 years in prison.

Defense attorney Joe Spencer told ABC-7, "I think it was the best resolution for all parties involved. Arlene accepted responsibility for her participation. Obviously, she was not the shooter. Obviously, she did not know what was going to happen but her conduct was reckless and that is what she pled to. 

Spencer said it was "fair all around."

As for Arlene, "Well she feels pretty upset. She is very emotional and she is like 'I accepted responsibility', but she feels just as bad for the Herrera family like she does for her own family," Spencer said.

According to investigators, Piña was a passenger in a car driven by Facundo Chavez, who was accused of shooting Deputy Herrera following a traffic stop in San Elizario in March 2019.

In a statement from the office of the District Attorney, they said in part, "The State continues to seek the death penalty against Mr. Chavez on a charge of Capital Murder for his role in the shooting."

Facundo Chavez faces a capital murder charge in connection with Herrera's death.

A trial date for Chavez has not been set.

Chavez's next court hearing is scheduled for May 23.

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Rosemary Montañez

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