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December 18, 2012 permalink
Two foster girls murdered their foster mother Evelyn Miranda last year in New Mexico. Now a prosecutor is offering to let Desiree Linares be sentenced to foster care, where she was anyway, until age 21 as long as she will testify against the other girl, Alexis Shields.
Teen Murder Suspect Pleads No Contest
LAS CRUCES – One of two girls who, at the age of 15, allegedly bound and suffocated their foster mother, Evelyn Miranda, in her Hondo Valley home has pleaded no contest to the 2011 killing.
Desiree Linares, now 16, entered the no-contest plea Thursday in front of Judge William Brogan in state District Court in Alamogordo.
According to defense attorney Jesse Cosby, Linares, a Roswell native, will be sentenced as a juvenile under terms of the plea agreement. That means that rather than face decades of prison time if sentenced as an adult, Linares will be placed in the custody of the Department of Children, Youth and Families until she reaches the age of 21.
Cosby said the plea agreement could still be withdrawn by his client if the judge does not agree to sentence Linares as a juvenile.
“Until the judge accepts the disposition, the plea is still tentative,” Cosby said. “We want to resolve this case. The plea is a reasonable plea in our opinion, so we’d like to move forward with it.”
The trial for the other teen charged in the case, Alexis Shields of Mescalero, is scheduled for August. Linares must testify as a key witness in the trial against Shields under terms of the plea agreement, Cosby said.
Twelfth Judicial District Attorney Diana Martwick could not be reached for comment, nor could prosecutor Reed Thompson.
Ruidoso Downs resident Ima Jean Miranda, the victim’s sister-in-law, said she was stunned by the prospect of Linares receiving a juvenile sentence.
“Both girls were involved in this, and yet one girl will walk away in six years when she turns 21,” Ima Jean Miranda said. “How can you take a life and in six years be free to do anything you want, just because you’ll testify against the other?”
In 2011 Shields and Linares were each indicted on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, auto theft, tampering with evidence, larceny and three counts of conspiracy in connection with Miranda’s death.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in the case, Shields told police she placed Miranda in a chokehold while Linares tied the victim’s hands and feet with electrical cord. Then, police said, Shields placed a pillow over Evelyn Miranda’s face and held it down until the victim stopped breathing.
The two girls then fled from Miranda’s home in the woman’s Honda minivan, taking her laptop computer and cellphone. They were captured less than a day later at a friend’s home in Carlsbad.
Miranda provided treatment foster care, an enhanced level of foster parenting for youths with emotional or behavioral problems, through a Mesilla Valley Hospital program. Shields had been at Evelyn Miranda’s house for three weeks, and Linares a little over four days, when the killing occurred.
In brief comments, the victim’s son, Ismael Miranda, said he wanted both girls to face adult sentences.
Sentencing for Linares is scheduled for late January, Cosby said.
Source: Albuquerque Journal
Addendum: Shields has plead guilty.
Alamogordo: Teen pleads guilty in foster mom's death
Alexis Shields pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree felony murder in 12th Judicial District Court for her part in the 2011 death of her foster mother in San Patricio.
Shields, now 17, faces a maximum 15 years in prison followed by five years of supervised probation for her part in the death of Evelyn Miranda, 53, who was found dead at her home on June 8, 2011, by her nephew.
Both Desiree Linares and Shields, who were 15 at the time of Miranda's death, are still being held in juvenile detention facilities.
The issue of competency with Linares has suspended all proceedings under the rules of Children's Court until an evaluation on her is completed.
In February, Children's Court Judge Bill Brogan vacated Linares' trial because of competency and a mental retardation evaluation scheduled to be done on her.
Shields pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder during the commission of a kidnapping in a plea agreement with the state.
Under the plea agreement, Shields pleaded guilty to the charge in exchange for the state dismissing all the remaining charges of third-degree felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping or alternative fourth-degree felony conspiracy to commit robbery; first-degree felony robbery; first-degree kidnapping; third-degree robbery and third-degree tampering with evidence.
Shields is expected to be sentenced next year after a pre-sentencing report is completed.
Deputy District Attorney John P. Suggs said Shields will be sentenced as an adult.
"Even though she was a juvenile at the time the act was committed, she is going to be sentenced as an adult," Suggs said. "The total sentence that Shields faces is 30 years. The maximum, pursuant to the agreement, amount at sentencing is 15 years. Essentially both parties have stipulated in the plea agreement that she won't earn meritorious reductions for that 15 years. It will be a flat 15 years, but it's up to the judge, of course. The judge can go anywhere from probation to 15 years in prison. If we would have gone to trial, it could have been anywhere from zero to 30 years."
He said with Shields pleading guilty and taking responsibility, she is now looking at a maximum of 15 years in prison.
"The remaining 15 years could be suspended and be placed on up to five years of supervised probation," Suggs said. "She does receive credit for the amount of time that she's been in detention awaiting trial and sentencing since her arrest. All of Shields' sentence will be served in a New Mexico Corrections Department facility. It's not a juvenile facility."
He said there's been a number of issues that have arisen during the case.
"The defendant's statement to police was suppressed by the court," Suggs said. "It was a significant blow. That was our strongest piece of evidence. This case got delayed when Judge Brogan retired. We've had this agreement in place for some time, but just getting it before a judge has been difficult. Judge Angie K. Schneider had to recuse herself from the case. We went through all these delays while Shields was in custody. We were potentially concerned with speedy trial claims. I think it was a good outcome given the difficulties that we had, especially with the suppression issue."
He said in Linares' case, the state is waiting for a determination of whether she is competent to stand trial.
Suggs said once competency is established in Linares' case, the state will move forward.
"One way or another, we're going to have a motions hearing on Linares' competency issue," he said. "After the judge makes their decision on whether or not Linares is competent to proceed, we will proceed accordingly."
According to 12th Judicial District Court records, Miranda died of asphyxiation.
Miranda took in troubled or challenged teens through Mesilla Valley Hospital's Treatment Foster Care program.
She was a foster parent for both Linares and Shields, who was 15 at the time, in her San Patricio home.
Miranda has two grown children and operated a San Patricio business, Hair Styles by Evelyn.
On June 8, 2011, Miranda was found dead and the girls were missing from the home. The girls were found later that night in Carlsbad and taken into custody by deputies with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Eddy County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Marshals.
In 2011, 12th Judicial District Attorney Diana Martwick said the girls were considered "persons of interest" nearly immediately.
"They had not been in (Miranda's) home long," Lincoln County Undersheriff Robert Shepperd said at the time. "One had been there for two weeks. The other had been there for three days."
While the teens were arrested at a residence in Carlsbad, the car they used to flee from San Patricio was found in Roswell.
In 2011, Shepperd said the two probably went on to Carlsbad because at least one of them had a boyfriend there.
Source: Alamogordo News
Addendum: Shields is sentenced to ten years behind bars.
17-year-old girl sentenced in foster mom's death
Shields sentenced for her part in Evelyn Miranda's 2011 murder
A 17-year-old girl who smothered her foster mother in 2011 will spend about 10 years in prison.
Twelfth Judicial District Judge James W. Counts on Wednesday sentenced Alexis Shields to 30 years in prison but suspended 17. Shields will receive credit for the 999 days she has spent incarcerated since the June 2011 death of Evelyn Miranda.
Counts said before passing sentence that Shields may not be a monster but had committed a monstrous act before concluding that she required a lengthy period of incarceration.
During her often incoherent statement, Shields said that she did not want to be perceived as "infamous" but added she had taken responsibility for her actions.
"I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy; I'm just asking for forgiveness," she said. "I am very sorry from the bottom of my heart."
Shields codefendant, Desiree Linares, still faces murder charges.
At the beginning of a three hour, emotionally charged sentencing hearing, Celina Miranda described her mother-in-law Evelyn as a woman dedicated to the foster child care system and someone who would spend her own money to buy clothes for her charges, who often came to her with shoes two sizes too small or bras that didn't fit.
Often facing Shields, Miranda also spoke of the pain Evelyn's death brought upon the family and the suffering they have endured because of it.
"It is fortunate that we do not have to hear the gruesome details in a trial," Miranda said. "It's hard to look at pictures of her. I miss her so much."
Deputy District Attorney John Sugg said at the beginning of the hearing that all too often a case becomes about the assailant and not the victim.
"This case is about Evelyn," he said. "It is about her family."
The prosecution called for a lengthier 15-year sentence. They characterized Shields as unremorseful, a manipulative girl who has preyed upon other inmates at a juvenile detention facility and smothered Evelyn Miranda with a pillow after helping to bind her arms and attempting to knock her out with a rubbing alcohol-soaked rag.
Conversely, witnesses for the defense, said that Shields — a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe — is a troubled girl who was taken off the reservation and left at house where she knew no one and fell under the "coaching" of others.
Shields defense attorney Chico Gallegos asked Counts to consider a suspended sentence, arguing that with proper support, Shields would be able to turn her life around.
Shields' other defense attorney, Anna Aragon, said given the possible range of sentences, Counts' sentence was well reasoned and well thought out.
"We certainly would have liked to have seen a few more years knocked out," she said. "Not the entire time, I think that would have been a bit unrealistic but perhaps another two or three down."
Sugg said he thought the sentence was fair and just considering the fact that Shields was 15-years-old at the time of the murder.
"It was a horrific crime obviously and Evelyn was a great person," he said. "If it wasn't for Desiree and Alexis being 15 at the time, I think it should be an easy sentence — they both need to spend the rest of their lives in prison."
Source: Alamogordo Daily News