SALINAS, Calif. — A California man who killed a pastor last year by stabbing him in the neck with a drywall saw blade has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Servando Silva, 39, entered the plea on Friday after a six-day trial in Monterey County Superior Court, and with the jury still deliberating. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting his own brother with a screwdriver three hours before killing the pastor.
As a result of the plea deal, Silva will be sentenced to 38 years to life on April 20, and may not appeal the sentence or revoke his guilty plea.
As previously reported, last March, Herbert Valero, 68, of Victory Outreach Church in Salinas thought he was simply stepping out of the house to pray with Silva after he arrived at his door in need of help. He had told members that they could come to his house anytime they needed assistance. However, as Valero sought to extend kindness to Silva, he was suddenly stabbed in the jugular.
“Within minutes, while [Valero] was mid-sentence stating he was [Silva’s] friend and that he could help, Silva stabbed the pastor in the neck with a drywall saw blade,” prosecutors said in a press release.
Silva fled the scene and Valero ran into his house, where he told his wife and daughter that Silva had stabbed him. Valero’s family called 911, but he died in his wife’s arms before emergency responders arrived. He was pronounced dead after CPR was unsuccessful.
Police contacted Silva’s family and instructed them to advise when he returned home. Later that night, as patrol units were out looking for Silva, one of his relatives called 911 to notify officials that he had arrived. Silva was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon and violating his probation.
According to KSBW-TV, prosecutors state that the murder was the result of “mental delusions.”
Valero, a father of six, was known for working with the addicted and those involved in street life. He was well-respected in the community.
“His church helps a lot of the people who we work with, like drug addicts or former gang members … people that other churches didn’t want to touch,” Second Chance Youth Program Executive Director Brian Contreras told The Californian.
“The world I came from before I got saved was gangs, drugs and just a lot of darkness. When I came into contact with Pastor Herb for the first time, through his testimony, it just showed me that I do have a second chance at life,” Juan Gonzalez, a former prisoner who met Valero while staying at a men’s home he operated, also shared with reporters.
“Pastor Herb was a servant of the community. He dedicated his life to God. He was determined to make somebody’s life a little bit better. He was able to minister broken men and women. He would go into the prisons, Chinatown; he would go everywhere,” City Council Member Tony Barrera said. “Herb is not going to leave a void; he is going to leave a legacy.”