Cabrera says yes, then no, to murder plea deal

A man accused of killing his stepdaughter’s boyfriend twice indicated to prosecutors he would accept a plea deal before twice changing his mind and backing out of it, the second time in court today.

Fredy Cabrera, 40, continues to be scheduled for a September trial on a charge of first-degree murder after deliberation after rejecting prosecutors’ offer to accept a plea of guilty to second-degree murder.

Under the plea deal, he would have faced a sentencing range of 16 to 48 years in prison. If convicted of first-degree murder, he would be sentenced to life behind bars without parole.

He’s accused of shooting and killing Douglas Menjivar, 21, on July 31, 2013, at the Riverside Cottages just south of Glenwood Springs, and shooting and seriously injuring Leydy Trejo. He allegedly was upset that the two were in a relationship. His three-week trial is scheduled to start Sept. 22.

Under the plea deal, an assault charge against Cabrera also would have been dropped.

Assistant Ninth Judicial District Attorney Scott Turner said Cabrera had told prosecutors a few weeks ago he would accept the deal, but this morning, hours before his scheduled court appearance, informed them he’d changed his mind.

But when Turner and Judge Denise Lynch sought in court to confirm Cabrera’s wishes to reject the deal and go to trial, he began consulting with his attorneys, first in the courtroom and then behind closed doors after Lynch granted a recess.

After they returned within a half-hour, one of his attorneys, Kathy Goudy, told Lynch, “It is my understanding Mr. Cabrera wants to accept the plea offer. He does wish to sign the plea paperwork.”

But when presented with that paperwork, Cabrera paused, then stood up. While he mostly speaks Spanish, he then uttered in English, “No, no — sorry.”

“He wants to go to trial again,” his second attorney, Colleen Scissors, said, seemingly as much to herself as to Lynch.

“That’s all right,” said Lynch. Earlier she had urged Cabrera to take his time today in considering what is a ‘big decision’ for him, adding that it’s his right to go to trial if he wished.

After today’s proceedings, Goudy said about Cabrera’s indecisiveness, “It’s a very emotional decision to make.”

She said those emotions stem in part from seeing his wife and family in the courtroom and knowing how long he would be apart from them in prison even under a 16-year sentence.

DA Sherry Caloia said Cabrera has a “very short window to reconsider (the plea offer) but if he does not want it we will proceed to trial.”

“I do not know his reasons for waffling. But I do agree that it is a very important decision that will have life-long ramifications and should be considered very, very carefully.”

Meanwhile, Lynch recently ruled on a defense motion asking her to suppress what Cabrera’s attorneys argue are inaccurate or incomplete translations of witness statements, or to have prosecutors provide professional translations rather than ones provided by investigators. Lynch ruled she would consider such concerns during the trial rather than beforehand.


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