June 18, 2022 By Wallin & Klarich

Man Charged in Decades-Old Murder of Woman in Riverside 

On March 30, 1993, 30-year-old Sherri Herrera’s body was found along I-10 in the middle of the desert in Riverside County. A mother of four, Herrera had been seen alive just a few days before her body was found. For nearly 40+ years, this murder remained unsolved. 

Recently, however, a retired cross-country truck driver has been linked to the killing. The suspect is 67-year-old Douglas Thomas, who was arrested this past May on suspicion of murdering a woman in Texas back in 1992. Thomas was tied to the 1992 Texas killing after authorities discovered a DNA match to evidence from the crime scene. 

After this connection, Riverside County investigators then found that Thomas’s DNA was also a match to evidence from Herrera’s 1993 murder. The investigators traveled to Texas to interview Thomas about Herrera’s killing. Based on their investigation, the District Attorney was able to charge Thomas with murder, specifically murder committed during a rape. After Thomas is prosecuted in Texas for the 1992 murder, Riverside County’s District Attorney will request his extradition to California to face trial for Herrera’s murder. 

Statute of Limitations for Crimes in California 

With the help of new advancements in technology and DNA testing, decades-old cases involving crimes like murder can now be reopened and solved. So how long is the statute of limitations in California for different crimes? California has complicated laws regarding the statute of limitations for when a plaintiff can bring criminal charges against you. Statutes of limitations set time limits for when a person can be charged in a crime. Once the applicable time period passes, the legal claim is usually no longer valid. 

In general, violent crimes have longer statutes of limitations, while the most serious crimes like murder have no statute of limitations. This is why the suspect in the Herrera murder could be charged even decades after the murder occurred. Sometimes, statutes of limitations can also be suspended to allow the plaintiff more time to file a lawsuit. This is called “tolling” and may happen if the defendant is a minor, out of the state, in prison, or insane. When the reason for the tolling ends, the statute of limitations begins to run again. 

General statutes of limitations are set based on whether the crime was a felony or a misdemeanor and the jail sentence for the crime. These general time limits are:

  • 6 years for felony offenses punishable by 8 or more years in prison
  • 3 years for other felonies 
  • 1 year for misdemeanors

For crimes punishable by death or a life sentence, there is no statute of limitations. These crimes include: 

  • First degree murder 
  • Treason 
  • Violent sex crimes 
  • Embezzlement of public funds 

Other crimes that fall outside the general statutes of limitations include felony sex offenses committed against a minor, which can be prosecuted until the victim’s 40th birthday. Felony sex offenses that require sex offender registration, such as child pornography, has a statute of limitations of 10 years. In addition, certain crimes committed against the elderly or domestic violence crimes have a time limit of 5 years. Finally, felony fraud and misconduct by a public official have statutes of limitations of 4 years after the discovery of the offense or 4 years after the completion of the offense, whichever occurs later. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

Statutes of limitations are important to understand in order to know when a case can be brought against you. If you have a question about the California statute of limitations for a certain crime, reach out to our experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients secure successful outcomes, and we can help you, too. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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