A Tomé teenager has been sentenced to a decade in prison for the murder of a Valencia County woman.
On Wednesday, May 1, 13th Judicial District Judge Cindy Mercer sentenced Israel Treadwell, 18, to 10 years after pleading guilty to first-degree murder for the September 2017 shooting death of Miranda Molinar.
Treadwell, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, received four days of good time credit and will have to be on supervised probation for five years after his release.
“So many lives were impacted by a decision you made in a moment in time. This didn’t have to happen,” said Mercer during the sentencing hearing. “You made the decision to point a gun at the head of your friend and pull the trigger. That cannot be justified.”
Tony Vaughn, a 13th Judicial District assistant district attorney, called Molinar’s death absolutely senseless. He told the court Treadwell’s statements to police changed several times.
“He said the gun was not loaded. That Miranda’s friend loaded the gun. He didn’t think it was loaded. Didn’t remember pointing the gun at her,” Vaughn said. “At one point, he said, ‘I think I was trying to scare her by setting it off close to her,’ and he then motioned shooting up in the air. The trajectory of the bullet indicates she was seated and shot by someone standing above her.”
Molinar’s aunt, Yvonne Romero, described her as respectful, humble and kind.
“Since this, I can see the pain in her mother’s eyes,” Romero said in a written statement read by Vaughn. “How can she trust that any of her other children are safe when Maranda’s friend killed her?”
Lilly Gallegos, Treadwell’s mother, said Molinar was a beloved friend of the family and her son’s good friend.
“After it happened, he cried and cried and prayed and prayed,” Gallegos said. “His best friend was gone.”
Treadwell apologized to the family through tears.
“I’m really sorry for what I’ve done. I can’t take it back. I never meant for this to happen,” Treadwell said. “I did something stupid. I know I can never do anything to replace Miranda. Just know, deep down in my heart, I’m sorry.”
His defense attorney, Rafael Padilla, said Treadwell agreed to the plea agreement to avoid a painful trial for the Molinar family.
“He wants to take responsibility; he never denied what happened. He was cooperative during the investigation,” Padilla said. “His character makes me proud to represent him. I think the positives should mitigate the sentence.”
Vaughn argued this wasn’t an appropriate case for mitigation, since his younger sister and other witnesses ran from the scene because they were afraid he was going to shoot them as well.
“Although Mr. Treadwell didn’t flee the scene, he also didn’t render aid to Miranda,” the prosecutor said. “When officers arrived, she was still alive.”
On Sept. 25, 2017, Valencia County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a home on El Cid Loop in Tomé in reference to a shooting in the garage.
When deputies arrived at the home, Molinar was found laying on the floor, unresponsive but still alive, with extreme trauma to her head.
Treadwell’s stepfather, Christopher Copper, told deputies the boy had invited friends over to play video games. Later, while he and Gallegos were in bed, they heard screaming and went outside to find Treadwell standing with a gun in his hand, saying “it just went off.”
After taking the gun from Treadwell, Cooper went into the garage and found Molinar lying in a pool of blood.
Treadwell’s sister said she was in the garage with her brother and his friends, and while standing behind Molinar, she heard a loud bang, which caused her to lose her hearing. When she realized it was a gunshot, she ran out of the garage to get her mother.
When asked, the girl said she saw Molinar and Treadwell arguing, but didn’t know what was being said because they were mouthing the words. She also said she saw her brother holding a gun and heard him say, “I can’t believe I shot her. I should kill myself” and “I’m going away forever.”
During an interview with detectives, Treadwell said Molinar asked if she could come over to his house, which he agreed to, but when she showed up, she was with friends he’d never met before.
When Molinar walked into the garage, she saw the gun, picked it up and began to show it to her friends, according to Treadwell. He told detectives the gun was unloaded at that time, but the bullets for it were by the television.
Treadwell said one of Molinar’s friends loaded the gun, but when it was returned to him, he unloaded the firearm and put it on a shelf. As the interview continued, Treadwell said he’d had a few drinks of whiskey and smoked some marijuana before the shooting.
Treadwell said he and Molinar were “joking around as if they were arguing,” when he picked up the gun and it went off.
Treadwell said he and Molinar were arguing playfully at first, but then she got mad and it turned serious.
“Israel stated that he then took the gun and pointed it at Miranda,” according to the statement of probable cause. “At this point, Israel stated that he was told (by) Miranda ‘shoot me.’ Israel then stated that he wanted to show her that he wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger, so he did and the gun went off.”
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.