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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The sister of a Cedar Rapids man, fatally stabbed by a Honduran man last year, said Monday the day her brother died was “one of the worst days of my life.”
“Since they told me the bad news that he was killed, ever since that day my life hasn’t been the same because they took my only brother that cared about me,” Bacilia Valezquez Huerta said in a written victim impact statement that was submitted to the court for the sentencing of Victoriano Dias Barrera.
She didn’t attend the hearing, and her written Spanish statement was translated by a Gazette reporter to include in this article.
Valezquez Huerta said her brother, Victor Huerta, always made her happy despite having his own problems. He always joked and made her laugh. Every time they talked, he told her how much he loved her and that she wasn’t alone because he was there for her.
“Now he isn’t,” she said in her statement. “I’ve fallen into a strong depression and I feel alone without him. He was my friend and my little brother. Every Sunday I wait for his call, but that won’t happen anymore.”
Dias Barrera, 40, originally was charged with first-degree murder, going armed with intent and assault while displaying a dangerous weapon. He pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Through a court interpreter, Dias Barrera during the plea hearing admitted to stabbing and killing Huerta, 33, last year as the “result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting” from being provoked.
According to a criminal complaint, witnesses said Huerta and Dias Barrera were in an argument April 4, 2021, in a room at the Residence Inn, 1900 Dodge Rd. NE in Cedar Rapids. The argument escalated when Dias Barrera armed himself with a knife and “plunged his knife into Huerta’s chest, causing his death,” the complaint stated.
First responders attempted to help Huerta, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said several people were in the hotel room at the time of the stabbing. One of them, 29-year-old Anthony Diaz, was wanted for murder in Texas.
Dias Barrera, during the sentencing, said through the interpreter that his intention was to defend himself. He didn’t want to kill Huerta.
Todd Weimer, Dias Barrera’s lawyer, said he believed this was an “impassioned moment” during the altercation, and his client “didn’t have time to step back and think about” what was happening.
Weimer said as a result of Dias Barrera’s plea, he will be deported. He left Honduras to get away from the violence and wanted to come to this country to work hard and provide for his family, Weimer said.
First Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter said the prosecution didn’t take this plea agreement lightly. It was a “just result in light of the facts and circumstances of the case.”
The plea was discussed with Huerta’s family, who wouldn’t initially communicate with the office regarding the crime, Slaughter said. They finally got in contact with Valezquez Huerta, who was open to speaking with Slaughter and submitted statements from her and Huerta’s niece for the court because they couldn’t attend.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Justin Lightfoot sentenced Dias Barrera to 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay $150,000 in victim restitution to Huerta’s estate or heirs, which is required by Iowa law. The other two charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
According to court records, there is a federal immigration detainer for Dias Barrera, who will be deported after serving his Iowa prison sentence.
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