12/17/08 — Best pleads to 2007 murder

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Best pleads to 2007 murder

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on December 17, 2008 1:46 PM

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David William Best

Kathy Holt Alfaro, the sister of murder victim Patricia Herring, knew her sister had a habit of disappearing from time to time.

Patricia had battled with drugs, Mrs. Alfaro said, and the pain of their mother Dolly's death spurred her sister's depression and binges of crack cocaine and alcohol abuse.

But when Ms. Herring, then 43, went missing again in 2006, her sister knew something was different. Her live-in boyfriend, David William Best, 24, continually told Mrs. Alfaro conflicting stories about the last time he had seen Ms. Herring.

What worried the murder victim's sister most, however, was when Ms. Herring failed to call on her nephew's birthday, something she never missed.

Mrs. Alfaro's worst fears were realized in late November 2007, when Sheriff Carey Winders showed up on her doorstep to break bad news.

Ms. Herring's body had been found buried beneath a set of pre-fabricated concrete steps at Best's Selah Church Road trailer. Her body had been underground since a few days before Christmas in 2006, investigators said.

Best, Ms. Herring's one-time live-in boyfriend, pleaded guilty to Ms. Herring's murder on Tuesday, and was sentenced to between 14 and 17-1/2 years in prison.

The plea was a bargain with prosecutors, which reduced his charge to second-degree murder from first-degree murder.

After Judge John Nobles read through the formalities of the plea arrangement, Mrs. Alfaro was allowed to address her sister's killer.

She had one question for him, she said -- she wanted to know how he could live in a home for a year after burying her beneath it.

"Why didn't you call 911?" Mrs. Alfaro said with a voice choked by tears. "Why put her in a hole?"

Best's lawyer responded for him.

"What he (Best) has related to me, the amounts of crack cocaine and alcohol they were using, he was absolutely scared to death of the circumstances," the attorney said. "He has searched his soul, and he really doesn't know why."

Clutching a tissue and dabbing her tear-soaked eyes, Mrs. Alfaro told Best that her sister's killing left her feeling empty and sad.

"I just wanted you to know, I didn't get to say my last goodbyes to her," Mrs. Alfaro said. "I forgive you. But not for you. For me."

When she finished speaking Assistant District Attorney Terry Yeh embraced her.

Before the sentencing, the assistant district attorney read from Best's statement to Sheriff's Office investigator Carl Lancaster.

"On Friday, a couple of days before Christmas last year, we walked to a friend's house up the road, borrowed his car, and went to Food Lion in Newton Grove," Ms. Yeh read from Best's statement.

After the couple picked up liquor at a nearby ABC store, Best sought both powder cocaine and crack cocaine, and told police he went to a bathroom and injected himself with the cocaine, Ms. Yeh sad.

Later, a physical fight took place, and Ms. Herring fell down a set of stairs outside the trailer and laid face-first in the mud, the assistant district attorney read from Best's statement.

After the sentencing, Mrs. Alfaro said the holidays had been hard to celebrate without her sister. Today is the anniversary of Ms. Herring's funeral, the family said.

"There was so much I wanted to show her," Mrs. Alfaro said. "My grandbaby, Nevaeh."

Loretta Holt, the victim's other sister, said she was not happy with the way Best had responded in the courtroom.

"He acted like he didn't feel bad," sister Loretta Holt said. "He showed no remorse."

Outside the courtroom after the sentencing, Mrs. Alfaro said she was surprised that Best had not offered an apology.

"He didn't even say to me, 'I'm sorry,'" Mrs. Alfaro said. "But there's a God above. There is a God above."

Rigo, Mrs. Alfaro's 7-year-old son, has taken to calling his deceased grandmother Dolly the stars in the sky, and Ms. Herring, the moon.

"He (Rigo) says Pat's out there, watching over us," Mrs. Alfaro said.