Alleged love triangle ends in 30-year prison sentence for Carbondale man

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Fredy Cabrera, right, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Oct. 1, 2014, after pleading guilty to the murder of Douglas Menjivar, left, who was dating Cabrera's step-daughter Leydy Trejo, center, at the time. (Credit: Facebook, Garfield County Sheriff's Office)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — A soured business partnership. An alleged love triangle involving an 18-year-old, her boyfriend and her stepfather. Murder.

The case of a Carbondale man, which had all the makings of a TV crime drama, came to an end Wednesday, when Fredy Cabrera was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In August, Cabrera, an El Salvadorian immigrant who seemed to have made good on the American Dream, pleaded guilty to killing Douglas Menjivar, a 22-year-old who he had helped bring to Colorado from El Salvador to work in one of his businesses.

Menjivar was dating Cabrera’s stepdaughter, Leydy Trejo, at the time he was shot to death in August 2013. Trejo was also shot during the an argument that turned deadly, but survived after being airlifted to a Denver hospital.

Trejo and Menjivar had moved in together eight days before the shooting.

After receiving tips early in the investigation, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office looked into the possibility that Cabrera killed Menjivar because he wanted to have a romantic relationship with his then-18-year-old stepdaughter. Though investigators did ultimately conclude Cabrera was upset Trejo was dating Menjivar, no concrete evidence was ever presented that Cabrera was engaged in or interested in having a romantic relationship with her.

However, Trejo’s demeanor at her stepfather’s trial left many puzzled.

When she was asked who shot her by District Attorney Scott Turner, Trejo responded “I couldn’t see, it was too dark outside,” according to court records.

However, after Trejo confirmed she had seen Cabrera and Menjivar wrestling and tumbling down an embankment in a parking lot before the shooting, Turner was granted the opportunity to re-direct.

“I need to be clear,” Turner said, “is there any doubt as we sit here today that your stepfather was the one who shot you and killed your boyfriend?”

“I’m telling you that I couldn’t see very well,” Trejo said.

“But you agreed that your father and Douglas had tumbled down the embankment?” Turner asked.

“Yes,” Trejo said.

“So it was your father who shot you and killed your boyfriend is that correct?” Turner asked.

“Yes,” Trejo finally concluded.

Trejo’s testimony, in part, led to Cabrera accepting a plea. In the deal, prosecutors dropped first-degree murder chargers in exchange for Cabrera pleading guilty to second-degree murder, which came with a sentence of between 16 and 48 years.

Trejo returned to court to ask the judge for leniency during Cabrera’s sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

“I’m no one to judge,” Trejo said, according to court records. “Despite what happened, he is always going to be my dad. Even though I miss Douglas, we also miss our dad.”

Standing before 9th District Court Judge Denise Lynch, Cabrera apologized to Menjivar’s family, and offered to pay the $10,000 cost to ship his body back to El Salvador.

Though she didn’t choose to issue a maximum sentence, Lynch didn’t seem to buy the defense’s arguments that Menjivar’s death was a result of a discussion gone wrong. Citing the fact that Cabrera brought a gun to the discussion and fully unloaded a clip on both Menjivar and Trejo, Lynch expressed doubt that Cabrera’s intentions were that benign before issuing the 30-year prison sentence.

The idea that Cabrera might have been harboring sinister intentions would seem to be a hard one for his friends and family to wrap their heads around.

His brother-in-law told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent Cabrera was a “peaceful” man. A six-year employee at El Horizonte, Cabrera’s restaurant in Carbondale, told the newspaper “it was like the devil possessed him.”

Cabrera immigrated to Colorado from El Salvardor, working his way up from dishwasher in Aspen to restaurant owner. In addition to his restaurant in Carbondale, Cabrera open a second location in Glenwood Springs. He also owned CompuCopy, an electronics shop in Carbondale — the shop Menjivar was managing at the time of his murder.

The shooting took place in the parking lot of the Riverside Cottages in Glenwood Springs, where Menjivar and Trejo lived, during the early morning hours of Aug. 1, 2013. Though he fled the area after the shooting, Cabrera turned himself in to the authorities later that day.

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