Cabrera defense cites remorse, seeks lighter sentence
Fredy Cabrera’s defense team is seeking leniency at his sentencing Wednesday for second-degree murder, making a case that the successful restaurant owner would never have purposely killed friend and employee Douglas Menjivar and shot his stepdaughter in the leg on a summer night outside Glenwood Springs last year.
Rather, there is evidence based on a DNA report from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation that a struggle ensued between Cabrera and Menjivar, during which Cabrera’s gun fired, according to a presentence memo filed Monday by defense attorneys Colleen Scissors and Kathy Goudy.
“He and Douglas struggled over the gun, which dropped out of the pocket of [Cabrera’s] cargo pants,” his attorneys claim in the 12-page memo. “The gun was fired several times, but Mr. Cabrera does not remember the precise details.
“No one interviewed has ever believed that Mr. Cabrera would have intentionally harmed [stepdaughter] Leydy [Trejo], but from what Mr. Cabrera recalls, Douglas pushed Leydy aside and came at him and slugged him in the side of the head,” the memo continues. “This is supported by Mr. Cabrera’s injuries.”
Such evidence was likely to be presented at a first-degree murder trial that had been scheduled to start last week, before Cabrera accepted a plea deal from 9th District Attorney Sherry Caloia in late August, pleading guilty to the lessened second-degree murder charge.
The charge carries a sentence of between 16 and 48 years in prison. Caloia said after the plea hearing on Aug. 22 that there is ample evidence to ask for a prison sentence in the aggravated range of 25 years or more.
The defense memo filed Monday seeks a sentence in the “mitigating” range of 16-24 years.
“He was not fueled by greed or raging anger over money, as is true of a recent case in this jurisdiction in which a 20-year sentence was handed down,” they argue, in apparent reference to the sentence given to William Styler for the murder of Nancy Pfister in Aspen earlier this year.
In taking the plea, Cabrera, 41, accepted responsibility for shooting and killing Menjivar the night of July 31, 2013, in an apparent fit of rage over Menjivar’s relationship with Trejo.
Cabrera had been upset that Trejo, who was still 18 and in high school at the time, had moved into an apartment just south of Glenwood Springs with the 21-year-old Menjivar.
“Suffice it to say, this was an errant act fueled in part by emotion and coupled with alcohol that may have blurred his actions,” the defense memo states. “Undeniably, Mr. Cabrera was not thinking clearly as evidenced by the fact that despite their differences regarding his relationship with Leydy, he considered Douglas as a son.”
That was evidenced by Cabrera, a fellow El Salvadoran immigrant like Menjivar, agreeing to sponsor him into the United States, employing him at his El Horizonte restaurant in Carbondale and even starting another copy service business that Menjivar could run and support Trejo.
Cabrera has remained in the Garfield County Jail without bond since his arrest in Grand Junction the day after the fatal shooting. During his time there, the defense memo notes that he has been a “model inmate,” becoming a jail trustee, completing life skills courses, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and attending church services regularly.
The Wednesday sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. before District Judge Denise Lynch.
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