Cristal Cardenas Convicted Of Double Murder

Cristal Cardenas

Cristal Cardenas is a woman from New Mexico who was just convicted in a double murder. According to court documents Cristal Cardenas and her boyfriend Luis Flores attempted to hire a hitman to have her former boyfriend killed due to a lengthy custody battle. Well the hitman fell through so Cristal Cardenas and Luis Flores would shoot and kill 34-year-old Mario Cabral and his girlfriend, 32-year-old Vennessa Rodriguez Mora, during the night of March 25, 2018. The bodies of the victims would be found by a teenage girl who ran to a neighbors and phoned the police. Cristel Cardenas and Luis Flores would be arrested, Cristel Cardenas would be convicted and could be sentenced to life in prison at her sentencing hearing later on. Luis Flores stand trial in April 2022.

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 It’s been almost four years to the day since a teenage girl woke up and discovered the bodies of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend at their home in Garfield. On Friday, a jury found one of the two defendants in the killing guilty on three of the four charges. 

Cristal Cardenas, 34, was convicted on one count of first-degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and one count of criminal solicitation. The jury also found her not guilty of a second count of first-degree murder. Police say she arranged a hit on her ex-boyfriend and the father of her daughter, then aided her new boyfriend in killing the man and his new girlfriend. 

According to police, Cristal Cardenas and her new boyfriend, 36-year-old Luis Flores, killed Mario Cabral and his girlfriend Venessa Mora Rodriguez on March 25, 2018. All the while, Mora Rodriguez’s daughter hid in another room. Police said that Mora Rodriguez’s daughter discovered Cabral and her mother the morning after the killing.

It’s unclear how this verdict will affect Flores’ trial, which is scheduled to start in April. 

Three hours before the jury returned with their decision, prosecutors representing the state and a defense lawyer representing Cardenas battled it out one last time. Arif Abrar, an assistant district attorney, went first in closing arguments. He outlined the case he and his fellow prosecutor, Linzui Vergara, built over the last five days.

He started by outlining the night and early morning of March 25, 2018, as testified to by Mora Rodriguez’s daughter. The daughter told the jury that she was watching television with her mom and Cabral before going to bed. She woke up a few hours later to the sound of gunshots. The daughter said she hid under a blanket for a while before she fell back asleep, believing the whole thing was a nightmare

When she woke up, she found her mother and Cabral in a pool of blood. She ran across the street to a neighbor’s house and called the police. 

Abrar said that evidence and other witness testimony filled in the rest of the story. He said Flores broke into the house, shot Cabral once, shot Mora Rodriguez three times, then turned back to Cabral. Abrar said Flores then shot Cabral in the groin area six times.

Abrar also spent some time refuting a theory that Cardenas’ lawyer suggested at the start of the trial: that is that Cabral and Mora Rodriguez were killed by a drug cartel. 

“Have you heard a single word of that?” Abrar said, referring to the testimony that would’ve supported the cartel theory. “Nothing shows that because it’s made up. It’s there to confuse you.”

Instead, Abrar said the motive was much simpler: money and jealousy. He said that Cristal Cardenas was going to lose her house which Cabral built for her and their daughter when they were still in a relationship. If Cabral died, the house would stay in her control, Abrar said. 

Abrar said that Cristal Cardenas and Flores intended to hire a hitman and, when that fell through, they did the job themselves. They surveilled Cabral’s house and waited to strike until just after midnight on March 25, 2018. 

“This was meticulously planned,” Abrar said. 

Cristal Cardenas’ lawyer, Todd Holmes, disagreed. Holmes began his closing argument with a wider view of how prosecutors were going about prosecuting the case

“Don’t let the government shift our 200-year-old right,” Holmes said, referring to prosecutors representing the State of New Mexico. 

Holmes also pushed back on any implication that it was the defense’s job to prove an alternative theory. He said that his statements regarding cartel involvement at the start of the trial were one possible alternative. Ultimately, he said the facts of the case didn’t line up with the prosecutor’s narrative. 

Holmes also pointed out a lack of physical evidence, such as DNA or fingerprints, that would place Flores or Cardenas in the trailer during the shooting. Additionally, he raised questions about the reliability of one of the state’s key witnesses, the man who said Cristal Cardenas paid him to kill her ex-boyfriend.

Closing arguments were also a bit snippy. At several points, prosectors objected to statements from Holmes forcing 3rd Judicial District Judge Conrad Perea to intervene. After the conviction, Cardenas is set to be sentenced at a future date. She could face life in prison. 

https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/crime/2022/03/11/jury-returns-guilty-verdict-cristal-cardenas-accused-garfield-killings/7002135001/

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