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FARMINGTON — A man who killed his girlfriend and dumped her body before fleeing to Mexico in 2008 has now admitted to burning down the woman's home days before attacking her.
Gutberto Heras-Corrales, now 42, was originally charged with aggravated arson, a first-degree felony, in connection with the fire that destroyed the trailer home belonging to his girlfriend, Noemi Rodriguez, 26.
He pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced charge of simple assault, a third-degree felony, admitting in court documents that he had set fire to the trailer, endangering human life.
Rodriguez, a mother of three, had kicked Heras-Corrales out of her Layton home on Dec. 18, 2008, as their relationship deteriorated, court documents state. Two days later, Heras-Corrales was kicked out of an Ogden bar for getting into a fight with Rodriguez there.
Hours after the fight, prosecutors believe Heras-Corrales burned down Rodriguez's trailer while no one was home. Rodriguez had told friends that Heras-Corrales threatened to burn down the mobile home and that she was making plans to move to California out of fear for her safety, according to charging documents.
Police believe Rodriguez was stabbed to death less than a week later, on Christmas Day. Her body was found buried in the snow Dec. 26, 2008, by a snowplow driver at the Huntsville Cemetery.
After killing Rodriguez, police say Heras-Corrales went to his mother, who was visiting from Mexico, and told her it was time to return home, police say. 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.
Second District Judge Davis Connors sentenced Heras-Corrales Thursday to a year in jail but with credit given for the year he has already served, including following his arrest in Mexico, according to court documents. He was also ordered to pay restitution for the cost of property lost in the fire and for the expense of extraditing him to the United States.
As part of the plea deal, Heras-Corrales waived his right to appeal in both cases, according to court documents.