‘I’m no one to judge,’ Leydy Trejo says of killer stepdad
Post Independent Correspondent
CARBONDALE — Her leg, where the bullet hit her, still hurts, especially on rainy days. She is also still afraid of the darkness, from which the bullets came flying almost two years ago. And her eyes swell when she talks about her stepfather, Fredy Cabrera.
“I’m no one to forgive him,” Leydy Trejo says. “I’m no one to judge. I wish the best for him.”
We’re talking at El Horizonte, the restaurant Cabrera opened in Carbondale years ago and that Leydy’s mother, Vilma Trejo, now runs to support her four children.
Not quite two years have passed since Cabrera, 39, ambushed Leydy, then 18, and her boyfriend Douglas Menjivar, 22, outside their south Glenwood home and started shooting at them, killing Menjivar and wounding Leydy in the leg. Cabrera pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in August 2014 and is now serving a 30-year prison term near Greeley.
In spite of all this, said Cabrera’s now-ex-wife, Vilma Trejo, she, Leydy and her three children with Cabrera — ages 15, 12 and 6 — are all doing well. In addition to dealing with court proceedings and the emotional aftermath of the shooting, she has been able to keep one of her two restaurants and her house in Blue Lake.
“It’s been a test, and we have all move forward,” Vilma said. “The kids are doing well, they miss their father, and I can see that clearly, but the girls are good kids, good students and they concentrate in their sports and studies.”
Vilma said the family has had a great deal of support.
“We are very thankful to everybody,” she said. “American people are very generous and loving.”
NEW SCHOOL, NEW LOVE
Leydy, who at the time of the shooting on July 31, 2013, was a senior at Basalt High School, is in the valley for the summer after spending her first year at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
“It’s a new beginning. Going to school has also helped me and has been a pleasant surprise,” said Leydy, who would like to become a nurse. “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to study, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to leave my family. The hardest part was being away from my mom.”
She spent every weekend of her school year at home helping her mother at the restaurant and with her younger siblings. Leydy would like now to transfer to CMC in the valley to be closer to home this year. She also has a new boyfriend, Nestor, 22, a Mexican national from Glenwood Springs.
“I met him a year ago, and we have a very nice relationship,” she said. “I met Nestor here at the restaurant and we started as friends. He has helped me a lot and has motivated me. Douglas will always be in my heart.”
WHY DID CABRERA SNAP?
At the time of the shooting, Cabrera, who immigrated to Colorado from El Salvador, working his way up from dishwasher in Aspen to owning two restaurants in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, apparently had a fit of rage over Menjivar’s relationship with Leydy.
Vilma Trejo, and most of the people who knew Cabrera, say they can’t explain his violent behavior that night.
“I think human beings are getting wasted by drugs,” his ex-wife said. “Maybe Fredy did this because he was drunk or had taken drugs.”
She thinks a combination of things pushed Cabrera to the edge.
“He was very focused on Leydy, he wanted her to accomplish something for the future. He wanted the best for her, and he got worried when Leydy moved in with Douglas,” Vilma said. “He drank when I met him, but he had stopped drinking.”
Vilma Trejo said she heard that Cabrera had a new cook, the man who drove him the night of the shooting to the apartment complex where Leydy and Douglas lived, and that he did a drug called “tachas” — generally called ecstasy by English speakers.
“We think he gave him the drugs which people say they make you see monsters,” his ex said.
Maria Elena González, who has known the family for about 10 years and has talked a lot to Cabrera, said she is still shocked about what happened.
“He is a great person. He was a good businessman and a good father,” she said. “We talked on the phone from jail and I heard him feeling sorry for what happened. He sounded broken.”
Vilma Trejo said she actually finds Cabrera in good spirits when she and her children talk to him once a month.
“When we talk I have the feeling that he is OK. That he is feeling good. He sounds like someone who is living out of jail,” she said.
Cabrera is staying busy while in prison studying computer and cooking for the inmates, Trejo said.
“He is doing something,” she said. “He is also getting close to God again. He feels God is taking care of him there, because you have to be careful in prison.”
Vilma Trejo has been a single mom now for almost two years. She has also divorced Cabrera, to whom she was married for almost 15 years.
“I got a divorce because it was the best thing for both of us. He accepted it.”
She has continued to find strength in her relationship with God.
“The most beautiful thing is to know more about God,” she said. “The only strength comes through him. These things come to improve our lives, to make us stronger. It’s hard, but the kids help me a lot.”
Trejo said she almost lost everything.
“At one point I had nothing,” she said. “I had invested everything. But I never stopped. I always had faith and hope. I sold one of the restaurants and another business we had in Carbondale and now we are doing OK.”
Vilma Trejo likes Nestor.
“He seems a quiet and a nice guy. Leydy also deserves to be happy and get over what happened,” she said.
Vilma Trejo said it is possible to forgive.
“I wish him the best. I tell my children to be there for him when he comes out of prison. I don’t carry a grudge in my heart.”
LOSING TWO LOVES
Leydy prefers to avoid the subject of her stepfather. Unlike her siblings, she doesn’t speak to him. During court proceedings, Leydy, the main witness in the case, seemed hesitant to testify that Cabrera had been the shooter.
“He was always a good man and always gave us everything,” said Leydy, who lived with Cabrera since she was 5 years old. “He always treated me like I was his own child. I hope he is doing OK in prison and that he makes the best out of it.”
With a shy smile, she said she sees a future with Nestor and would like to stay in the area.
“I didn’t stay stuck in what happened, Douglas will always be in my heart but I’ve tried to move forward. My family, friends and now Nestor have been a big support.
“I don’t wish it (what happened) on anybody, but it has helped me to grow up and be better. I suffered at a very young age, but I’m still here.”
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Officer Haley Walker sat beside her stepmother in a windowless interrogation room just before starting the overnight shift on Thursday evening.