Earlier this year, we told you about a hearing in western Colorado at which Leydy Trejo reluctantly admitted that her stepfather, Fredy Cabrera, had shot her and killed her boyfriend, Douglas Menjivar. Now, Cabrera, a successful restauranteur, has been given a hefty sentence for the crimes despite Trejo's plea for mercy. Continue for details, additional photos, a video and more.
As we've reported, Cabrera, 41, earned his keep through ownership of two restaurants, both called El Horizonte -- one in Carbondale, the other in Glenwood Springs.
Cabrera also holds the deed to Compu Copy, a store next to the Carbondale restaurant that was reportedly overseen by Menjivar, a 22-year-old originally from El Salvador.
Then, on July 31 of last year, violence flared. At around 11 p.m. on that day, according to the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, gunshots prompted 911 calls, with deputies soon dispatched to the Riverside Cottages, where Trejo lived. The entrance to the complex is captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
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GCSO reps discovered that two people, Menjivar and Trejo, had been shot. Both were transported to an area hospital, but Menjivar soon expired from his wounds. Trejo, for her part, was hurt seriously enough by a bullet to the leg that she had to be treated in Denver, although she's since recovered.
The suspect was immediately identified as Cabrera, and while he fled the scene, he subsequently turned himself in to authorities. He was jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, prohibited use of weapons and reckless endangerment.
What happened? CBS4 floated the theory of a "love triangle," reporting, "Some of those close to Cabrera said that he wanted a relationship with his step-daughter and wanted to get rid of her boyfriend."
Similar claims are absent from coverage by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, but plenty of other grabby material surfaced. Amid comments of surprise that Cabrera might be capable of such an act was this observation from an El Horizonte worker: "It's like the devil possessed him."
In the weeks and months that followed, a judge in the case issued a protective order in the case following reports that Cabrera's wife had allegedly offered money to Menjivar's family. But it wasn't until a preliminary hearing in February that some of the most intriguing information emerged.
A fine report in the Aspen Daily News quotes a couple of witnesses who said Cabrera began threatening to kill Menjivar if he didn't end his relationship with Trejo a couple of weeks prior to the shooting.
News reporter Nelson Harvey also captures the conflicted loyalties that tore at Trejo as she took the stand.
When Deputy District Attorney Scott Turner first asked Trejo who shot her, she replied, "I couldn't see. It was too dark outside."
Later, during cross-examination, defense attorney Colleen Scissors asked about a moment when "Douglas and your dad fell off the embankment down to the lower parking lot," and Trejo didn't contradict her.
This exchange provided Turner with an opening. When he got his next chance to quiz Trejo, he's quoted as saying, "I need to be clear: Is there any doubt as we sit here today that your father was the one who shot you and killed your boyfriend?"
"I'm telling you that I couldn't see very well," Trejo answered.
"But you agreed that your father and Douglas had tumbled down the embankment?" Turner asked.
"Yes," she replied.
"So it was your father who shot you and killed your boyfriend. Is that correct?"
"Yes," Trejo said.
No surprise that the court found there was enough evidence to put Cabrera on trial -- but before such a proceeding took place, he reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. In exchange for the dropping of a first-degree murder charge, the Post-Independent reports, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, which offered a sentencing range of between sixteen and 48 years.
Before 9th District Judge Denise Lynch, Cabrera and his supporters lobbied for punishment on the low end of the scale. As noted by the Post Independent, Cabrera insisted that he'd only wanted to talk with Menjivar and Trejo and had opened fire in self-defense. He also expressed his remorse to Menjivar's family and offered to foot the $10,000 bill to send his body back to El Salvador.
Trejo also testified on his behalf. "I'm no one to judge," she said at the sentencing hearing. "Despite what happened, he is always going to be my dad. Even though I miss Douglas, we also miss our dad."
Judge Lynch doesn't seem to have been especially persuaded by these pitches. She expressed doubt that Cabrera only wanted to talk given that he'd brought a gun with him -- one that he completely unloaded on Menjivar and Trejo. As such, she handed him a thirty-year sentence, of which he's served just over a year. He'll be eligible for parole after serving 75 percent of it: 22-and-a-half years.
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Here's the aforementioned CBS4 report, originally broadcast in August 2013.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.