Glenwood Springs murder suspects get court appointed lawyers

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Josue Joya, 20, was charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder on Wednesday in connection with a fatal July 31 shooting just south of Glenwood Springs.
Staff Photo |

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The two men suspected of involvement in the July 31 shootings south of town here, that left one man dead and his girlfriend badly wounded, will be defended in court by the Colorado Public Defender’s Office or another attorney paid by the state, a judge decided on Wednesday.

Fredy Cabrera, 39, and Josue Joya, 20, are both being held in the Garfield County Jail on charges that Cabrera committed first degree murder and Joya helped him, when Douglas Menjivar was killed at an apartment complex south of Glenwood Springs.

Cabrera’s 18-year-old stepdaughter, who had been living with Menjivar, also was wounded in the leg during the incident, and had to undergo emergency surgery in Denver.

Cabrera, according to formal charges filed on Wednesday, is charged with first degree murder, with a possible sentence of life in prison without parole or the death penalty, and felony-level assault, which carries a possible sentence of up to 24 years in prison.

Joya, who told police he drove Cabrera to the scene of the murder but then drove away after hearing shots, was formally charged on Wednesday with conspiracy to commit first degree murder and being an accessory to a felony-level crime. He faces up to a maximum of 54 years in prison if convicted on both counts with extenuating circumstances.

Joya is being held on a bond of $250,000, while Cabrera is being held without bond.

Public Defender Tina Fang, arguing that Cabrera should be defended by her office rather than having to hire a private attorney, told District Judge Denise Lynch in a motion that Cabrera is in custody and according to state law is entitled to representation by her office.

“A defendant need not be destitute to qualify for court-appointed counsel,” Fang continued in her motion, citing Colorado Supreme Court rulings. “It is sufficient that the defendant lack the necessary funds, on a practical basis, to retain competent counsel.”

She argued, based on an estimate from private attorney and former public defender Greg Greer, that to hire a good private attorney could cost Cabrera $450,000.

Fang also maintained that Cabrera is “underwater” on the two homes that he owns in Carbondale and in Glenwood Springs, meaning the homes’ potential sale value is less than the outstanding balances of the two loans for the homes.

She said Cabrera also is in debt for up to $27,000 that he owes for a 2002 Toyota pickup truck, credit card charges, and medical costs.

Cabrera owns two restaurants, one in Glenwood Springs and one in Carbondale, and a copy business.

The judge reportedly agreed with Fang’s assessment of the defendant’s finances and ordered that he be represented by her office.

In Joya’s case, Magistrate Holly Strablizky granted a motion that he have a court appointed attorney to represent him because he is in jail and unable to work. But since the public defender’s office is representing Cabrera the magistrate ruled that the office has a conflict and cannot also represent Joya. She ordered that an alternate attorney must be named.

That attorney was not identified in court on Wednesday, but Strablizky pledged to make sure an attorney is found in time for Joya’s next appearance in court, which is on Sept. 5.

Cabrera is due in court again on Oct. 17.

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