SALINAS, Calif. — A California man who fatally stabbed a pastor last year with a drywall blade after he stepped out of his house to pray for him has been sentenced to 38 years to life behind bars.
Servando Silva, 39, did not speak at his sentencing, but the wife and three daughters of Herbert Valero of Victory Outreach Church in Salinas delivered victim impact statements. Larry Lucas, the uncle of Valero’s wife, also spoke.
“He and his wife, Margo, were devoted to helping others in need and made a tremendous difference in the Salinas community,” he said.
Members of the community additionally sent letters to Judge Pamela Butler, according to Mercury News.
Silva pleaded guilty to the crime in February, and also admitted to assaulting his own brother with a screwdriver three hours before killing the pastor.
As previously reported, Valero, who founded the church in 1990, thought he was simply stepping out of the house to pray with Silva in March 2017 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.” Deputy District Attorney Todd Hornik called the attack a “senseless” and “meaningless” crime.
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.
Valero’s 97-year-old mother, whose name was not provided, told the Mercury News this week that she holds no ill will against Silva, as she understands that his family is hurting over Valero’s death as well.
“Let me put it this way: We hold no grievance because we have to understand his parents are suffering through a lot because they loved my son, too,” she said.