Carbondale man guilty of killing stepdaughter’s boyfriend
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A Carbondale restaurant owner pleaded guilty Friday morning in the shooting death of his stepdaughter’s boyfriend.
Fredy Cabrera, 40, faces a sentence of 16 to 48 years under a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Douglas Menjivar, 21. He had been charged with first-degree murder after deliberation, which would have carried a sentence of life without parole had he been convicted.
Speaking in 9th Judicial District Court in Glenwood Springs, Cabrera said he was responsible for Menjivar’s death.
As part of the deal, prosecutors dropped an assault charge involving the shooting and wounding of Cabrera’s stepdaughter, Leydy Trejo. Cabrera will be sentenced Oct. 1. His trial had been scheduled to start Sept. 22.
Cabrera shot the two outside the Riverside Cottages just south of Glenwood Springs on July 31, 2013. He reportedly was upset about them being in a relationship.
Cabrera and his wife, Vilma, own the El Horizonte restaurant in Carbondale.
Cabrera had repeatedly changed his mind over the past week about accepting the plea, and his attorneys said his indecisiveness stemmed from him being emotional over the possibility of being away from his family for even 16 years.
Speaking to reporters after Friday’s plea hearing, Vilma said Cabrera had hoped that if he’d gone to trial, it might have resulted in an outcome involving fewer years in prison.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia said prosecutors plan to argue for a sentence of more than 24 years, which would require a finding that aggravating factors existed. One of those factors is the use of a deadly weapon, she said.
One outcome of the plea deal is that Trejo won’t have to testify against her stepfather at trial, something Vilma said is difficult for her. Although Trejo had identified Cabrera as the shooter immediately after it occurred, she did so only reluctantly later in a preliminary hearing in the case.
Trejo wasn’t at Friday’s plea hearing. She has begun attending classes at Colorado Mesa University.
Caloia said she’s satisfied with the second-degree murder conviction because it was one plausible outcome had the case gone to trial.
Prosecutors had hoped to show premeditation justifying a more serious charge based in part on alleged threats Cabrera had made against Menjivar in the days and weeks ahead of the shooting.
Vilma said she was happy with the deal Cabrera received, and had encouraged him to accept it.
The Cabreras also owned an El Horizonte restaurant in Glenwood Springs at the time of the shooting but have since sold it.
Vilma, 36, said she continues to work to make ends meet at the Carbondale restaurant with the help of her faith in God and the assistance of her children. Cabrera is the father of three of her children, the youngest of whom is 5.
At Cabrera’s preliminary hearing, Trejo said she initially felt hatred toward Cabrera for his actions, but still loves him. She testified that he wanted the best for her and her siblings, worried about her failing grades at Basalt High School and had staged an intervention-type meeting with Menjivar and family over their relationship.
Cabrera and Menjivar also had worked together. Vilma said Friday that relations between Menjivar and her husband had been improving until a meeting they had the day before the shooting.
She said she thinks Cabrera felt humiliated by that meeting, where two friends of Menjivar’s were laughing and Menjivar showed no remorse for prior actions.
She said Cabrera may have acted out of anger in shooting Menjivar, but she isn’t sure, and also doesn’t know whether the shooting of his stepdaughter was accidental.
Cabrera is asking that a protective order be modified so he can speak to Trejo by phone and other means.
Caloia said she wouldn’t oppose the request if Trejo supports it.
Vilma said Trejo is OK with the change and she thinks her stepdaughter has forgiven Cabrera.