DA says public defender call was right one | PostIndependent.com

DA says public defender call was right one

John Colson
Post Independent staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Fredy Cabrera, accused of first degree murder over a shooting incident last month, is to be represented for free by the local public defender’s office despite claiming an income of more than $81,000 per month from two restaurants that he owns in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, according to Cabrera’s application to the public defender’s office.

But officials with the 9th Judicial District, which covers Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties, believe the decision to give Cabrera free legal help was the proper one.

Cabrera is being held without bond at the Garfield County Jail, accused of shooting to death Douglas Menjivar during an incident at an apartment building south of Glenwood Springs on July 31. If convicted, he faces either life in prison without parole, or the death penalty, according to statements made at his most recent hearing in District Court.

The application for a public defender, dated Aug. 15, is on file at the Garfield County Courthouse, and open to public inspection.

District Attorney Sherry Caloia, who has reviewed Cabrera’s application for a public defender, said her office had some questions about the information contained in the document, but chose to not oppose his being represented by the public defender’s office.

“It’s difficult for us to do that,” Caloia explained, because if the judge agrees and denies a defendant’s request for the public defender, “on appeal that might become a reversible error,” meaning any verdict could be overturned.

“If we go to trial,” Caloia continued, “we want the conviction to stick, assuming we get one. We looked at this very carefully to determine which position to take.”

According to the application filed by Cabrera, he is the owner and cook at the El Horizonte Restaurant in Carbondale and has done that job for nine years.

At that restaurant, according to the application, he is paid $1,200 every two weeks for working 90 hours a week, according to the application.

Cabrera’s wife, Vilma Trejo, is said to be a cook with the other restaurant owned by Cabrera, El Viejo Horizonte in the Roaring Fork Mall at the south side of Glenwood Springs. Her salary also is listed as $1,200 every two weeks, for a total of $4,800 per month for the couple.

That would put the couple’s annual salary at $57,600 if no other income is being earned by the household.

But in another part of the form, Cabrera lists his monthly income as $79,900, and his wife’s at $1,200.

Cabrera has been rumored to own a copy shop as well as the restaurants and his two homes, although the copy shop is not mentioned in his application to the public defender’s office.

In one portion of the application, Cabrera lists his monthly payments at $78,151, including monthly rental payments of $15,371, food costs at $34,000 per month, utilities at $18,280 per month, and taxes of $8,900 per month.

The form does not detail what the monthly rental payments are for, although they are listed under a section title of “Monthly Expenses” in Spanish, or “Gastos mensuales.”

He also lists monthly medical costs of $150, toward a medical debt of approximately $4,350, and credit card payments of $700 per month toward a total debt of approximately $9,600.

Under the heading of “Goods,” meaning property, Cabrera lists $120 in his savings account, $1,500 in his checking account, and ownership of three vehicles — a 2008 Toyota Tundra with an outstanding auto loan of about $14,000, a 2006 Nissan truck valued at approximately $3,500, and a 2002 Audi valued at approximately $2,000.

He also lists his two homes in the Blue Lake subdivision southeast of Carbondale on Highway 82.

One is currently valued at $354,930, according to the application, although he owes $477,551 on the mortgage.

The other home is valued at $329,930, but carries a mortgage of $365,556, according to the application.

In a motion to the court asking that Cabrera be represented by her office, public defender Tina Fang maintained that to hire a “competent” private attorney to defend against charges of murder and assault, Cabrera would have to come up with “a retainer of approximately $450,000,” based on an estimate provided by private attorney Greg Greer.

Fang concluded that Cabrera could not afford that kind of legal tab, and so is eligible for representation by her office, and District Judge Denise Lynch agreed.

Fang could not be reached on Thursday or Friday for clarification about details of the form and about her conclusions about Cabrera’s eligibility.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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