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Cosby said the plea agreement could still be withdrawn by his client if the judge does not agree to sentence Linares as a juvenile.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.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal