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Testimony reveals grisly details of alleged 2014 murder
Investigators: End of relationship led to stabbing; victims throat cut, finger and thumb removed
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Ofelia Barrera-Rodriguez is led from Hall County Magistrate Court Friday morning following her committal hearing for the charge of malice murder in alleged connection to the death of Iris Romero-Banegas, 43, in 2014.

A Gainesville woman accused of killing her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend stabbed her, cut her throat and then cut off her finger and thumb, according to testimony presented Friday by a Hall County Sheriff’s Office investigator.

Ofelia Barrera-Rodriguez, 49, was charged Nov. 12 with malice murder in connection with the death of 43-year-old Iris Romero-Banegas’ almost a year earlier.

Sheriff’s Office deputies discovered Romero-Banegas’ body with multiple stab wounds Dec. 28, 2014, in a Hidden Knoll home in North Hall County.

Investigator Jerry Phillips said the department believes the alleged attack occurred between 3 and 6 a.m. Dec. 28.

Phillips said the ex-boyfriend had recently ended the relationship with Barrera-Rodriguez and he had “hurt her very deeply.” According to the warrants, Barrera-Rodriguez confronted Romero-Banegas at her Hidden Knoll home.

The argument, Phillips said, began in the kitchen of the home, and Romero-Banegas retreated to the bedroom.

“There were blood splatter patterns on every wall of the bedroom as well as the headrest of the bed,” the investigator said.

Phillips said they believe the finger and thumb were removed cleanly after Romero-Banegas died.

“She said she was in such a dark place then that she didn’t really remember,” Phillips said when asked about the removed fingers.

Barrera-Rodriguez left the country for two weeks around the time of the incident and was later questioned by Texas rangers after she returned from Mexico, Phillips said.

At the scene, investigators discovered two fingernails and shipped the trace evidence to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab for DNA testing.

Barrera-Rodriguez was questioned for six hours straight in November. Phillips added that the accused was allowed bathroom breaks, a lunch break and a 30-minute prayer break.

Barrera-Rodriguez was joined at the defense table by Northeastern Judicial Circuit Public Defender Brad Morris, assistant public defender Matt Leipold and interpreter Melva Mendoza.

Leipold cross-examined Phillips for roughly 45 minutes focusing on the boyfriend’s interactions with Romero-Banegas and Barrera-Rodriguez.

The case was sent on to Superior Court.

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