Cabrera case to hinge on self-defense argument
Ryan Summerlin June 9, 2014
A flurry of pre-trial motions in the Fredy Cabrera murder case suggest his attorneys are preparing to argue that he acted in self-defense in the shooting death of his stepdaughter’s boyfriend near Glenwood Springs last summer.
Cabrera, 40, pleaded not guilty April 3 to charges of first-degree murder. He is accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old Douglas Menjivar after waiting for Menjivar and his stepdaughter, Leydy Trejo, then 18, to return to their apartment just south of the Riverside Cottages the night of July 31, 2013.
Trejo was also shot in the leg during the incident, and Cabrera faces an additional charge of first-degree assault.
A Sept. 22 trial has been scheduled in the case. In the meantime, several pretrial motions have been filed by both the defense team and prosecutors. The motions are to be considered by District Judge Denise Lynch at a July 15 hearing.
One filing by 9th District Attorney Sherry Caloia and Assistant DA Scott Turner sought disclosure of the defense argument to be made by Cabrera’s attorneys.
In their response filed with the court in late May, Kathy Goudy and Colleen Scissors said that Cabrera denies the charges and that they plan to assert that he acted in self-defense.
Prosecutors have alleged that Menjivar told several witnesses before the incident that Cabrera had threatened him and Trejo, both verbally and physically, in the months leading up to the shooting. Some of the verbal threats were recorded by Menjivar and passed along to witnesses, and could be entered as evidence in the trial.
Defense attorneys have requested to suppress alleged statements by two witnesses who are expected to be called at the trial, Misael Rivas and Noe Menjivar Magana, calling it “hearsay.”
During a preliminary hearing earlier this year, Cabrera’s attorneys offered evidence that Menjivar and Cabrera struggled before the shooting occurred. They also said at the time that the evidence pointed to a lesser charge of second-degree murder, and that Cabrera did not go to the apartment with plans to shoot Menjivar.
Goudy also indicated at the time that there could be testimony at trial that the gun went off accidentally.
Trejo, under questioning at the preliminary hearing, was also hesitant at first to finger her stepfather as the shooter, saying it was dark and she couldn’t tell for sure who it was. Pressed by Turner at that hearing, she indicated that she knew it was Cabrera who confronted them outside the apartment that night.
Defense attorneys have also moved to exclude statements allegedly made by Trejo to a Garfield County sheriff’s detective while being treated for her leg wound at Valley View Hospital, arguing she was under medication and the interview was not properly recorded.
Another police interview at a Denver hospital should also be disallowed, according to the defense motion.
Goudy also suggested in a May 9 court filing that a follow-up motion may be filed seeking a change of venue for the trial, due to pre-trial publicity and the possibility that the jury pool could be tainted. However, it’s premature to file that motion at this time, Goudy said.
Cabrera faces mandatory life in prison without parole if convicted on the charge of premeditated first-degree murder.