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UPDATED: Teen Murder Plea Vacated

Foster mother Evelyn Miranda was killed June 8, 2011.
Foster mother Evelyn Miranda was killed June 8, 2011.

One of the two teenagers charged with the killing of their foster mother in San Patricio is now scheduled to go to trial in March after her plea agreement last December was found to be illegal, the Alamogordo Daily News reported.

In a plea agreement with the state, 16-year-old Desiree Linares was supposed to plead no contest to murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, conspiracy to steal a motor vehicle, larceny and tampering with evidence, the Daily News said.

And in return for Linares’ plea, the state would not seek adult sanctions — up to 97 years in prison, as opposed to incarceration until she is 21 years old, the paper reported.

Deputy District Attorney James Dickens said both the state and defense had an agreement, but it turned out to be contrary to the law, according to the Daily News.

“As the law is, first-degree murder subjects her to adult sanctions,” Dickens said. “She would be treated as an adult and not as a child. Defense withdrew the plea when they could not argue for juvenile adjudication. The defense wanted all along  juvenile adjudication. Both sides didn’t fully understand the law. Both sides didn’t realize that a first-degree conviction would be an automatic adult conviction. There was a fundamental misunderstanding.”

If a new plea agreement is not reached, Linares will be tried as an adult, the Daily News said.

Linares and Alexis Shields, now 16, are accused of smothering Evelyn Miranda in her San Patricio home on June 8, 2011, then stealing her car, cell phone, computer and fleeing first to Roswell, then to Eddy County, where they were arrested a couple of days later, the paper reported.

12/18/12 — Teen Murder Suspect Pleads No Contest

By Rene Romo/Journal South Reporter

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

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