Father sentenced to 28-years-to-life in prison for murdering mother of his child

A 33-year-old man convicted of strangling the mother of his 7-month-old child to death and leaving her body in a burning car in San Francisco was sentenced to 28-years-to-life Monday morning, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Almon Johnson, 33, of Sacramento, was found guilty of first degree murder and arson last month for the 2011 murder of Vanessa Herrera, a 23-year-old preschool teacher and the mother of his son, prosecutors said.

Early Jan. 24, 2011, San Francisco police found a burning car in the Lower Haight with Herrera’s body in the passenger seat, prosecutors said. Police then learned that Herrera was reported missing in Sacramento after failing to come home the night before.

A witness testified in court that Johnson set fire to the car on Rose Street near Webster Street, prosecutors said. After pulling the car into the alley, Johnson took a gasoline canister from the trunk, placed it in the driver’s seat and lit a match.

The car — and Herrera’s body — were engulfed in flames. Johnson was arrested later that evening.

During testimony, it was revealed that Johnson drove to his mother’s house and then cousin’s home with Herrera’s body in the car, picking up the gas can and a blanket to cover her body, according to court records. He filled up the canister at a gas station before driving to The City.

Johnson had a history of domestic-violence related incidents before killing Herrera. In 2010, he was arrested on a parole violation for physically abusing Herrera and their child, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He admitted to that crime in jail letters to Herrera.

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