OGDEN — A man returned to Utah from Mexico to stand trial for his girlfriend's brutal slaying was found guilty of murder Tuesday.
Gutberto Heras-Corrales, who turned 42 this week, was convicted of murder, a first-degree felony, in the 2008 death of Noemi Rodriguez.
Police believe Rodriguez, a 26-year-old mother of three, was stabbed to death on Christmas Day in 2008. Her body was found buried in the snow a day later by a snowplow driver at the Huntsville Cemetery.
Rodriguez was stabbed multiple times in the neck and throat, according to court documents.
A partial profile of male DNA collected from Rodriguez's fingernails was matched to a full profile of DNA taken from clothing found in Heras-Corrales' abandoned apartment, according to a 2009 warrant for Heras-Corrales' arrest.
Jurors found Heras-Corrales guilty after eight days of trial in 2nd District Court in Ogden. Sentencing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 17.
According to court documents, the couple's relationship had deteriorated and Rodriguez kicked Heras-Corrales out of her Layton home on Dec. 18, 2008. Two days later, Heras-Corrales and Rodriguez got into a fight at an Ogden bar that resulted in him being kicked out of the bar, court documents state.
Hours after the fight, prosecutors believe Heras-Corrales burned down Rodriguez's mobile home in Davis County. No one was home at the time. He is charged in that case with aggravated arson, a first-degree felony, and is due in court Dec. 5.
Rodriguez told friends that Heras-Corrales had threatened to burn down the mobile home and she was making plans to move to California out of fear for her safety, according to charging documents. Family members told police Heras-Corrales had become increasingly abusive and threatened to kill Rodriguez, according to the warrant.
On Dec. 25, 2008, the day Rodriguez is believed to have been killed, Heras-Corrales went to his mother, who was visiting from Mexico, and told her it was time to return home, the warrant states. Video from a border crossing in Arizona showed a vehicle matching Heras-Corrales' truck driving into Mexico the next day, according to the warrant.
Heras-Corrales was arrested by Mexican authorities in Culiacan, Sinaloa, in January 2013 and detained until he was extradited to Utah in July 2015. At the time of Rodriguez's death, authorities said Heras-Corrales was in the country illegally and had a history of aggravated re-entry into the United States.
Free and confidential help and support for victims and survivors of domestic violence is available 24/7 at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or visiting udvc.org.