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Espanola man who killed teens on pilgrimage dies

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An Espanola man who pleaded guilty to killing a teenage couple during a religious pilgrimage in 2000 has died in an Albuquerque hospital.

Department of Corrections Director of Public Affairs spokeswoman Christina Rodda says 32-year-old Carlos Herrera was taken to the hospital from a state prison on Dec. 4 and died Monday. Rodda tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that it appears Herrera died of natural causes.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator plans an autopsy this week.

Herrera pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Karen Castanon and Ricky Martinez in 2000. He was serving two consecutive 30-year life sentences.

The 17-year-old teen sweethearts were participating in the annual Good Friday pilgrimage to Chimayo when they were killed.