ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A 16-year-old girl has pleaded no contest to first-degree murder and other charges in the 2011 killing of her foster mother.
The attorney for Desiree Linares, of Roswell, told the Albuquerque Journal that his client will be sentenced as a juvenile under terms of the plea agreement and will be kept in the custody of the Department of Children, Youth and Families until she's 21.
Linares and another girl were accused in the June 2011 asphyxiation death of Evelyn Miranda, 53, of Hondo Valley. Both girls were 15 at the time.
Linares pleaded no contest on Thursday to first-degree murder, kidnapping and other charges.
The trial for the other teen charged in the case, Alexis Shields, of Mescalero, is scheduled for August.
The victim's sister-in-law, Ima Jean Miranda, 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," she 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?"
Linares' attorney, Jesse Cosby, said his client must testify as a key witness in the trial against Shields under terms of the plea agreement.
Cosby said the plea agreement could still be withdrawn by his client if the judge does not agree to sentence Linares as a juvenile.
Shields told police she placed Evelyn Miranda in a chokehold while Linares tied the victim's hands and feet with electrical cord. Shields then placed a pillow over Miranda's face and held it down until the victim stopped breathing, authorities said.
The two girls then fled from Evelyn Miranda's home in the woman's minivan. They were captured less than a day later at a friend's home in Carlsbad.
Evelyn 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 Miranda's house for three weeks, and Linares a little over four days, when the killing occurred.
The victim's son, Ismael Miranda, said he wanted both girls to be sentenced as adults.
Sentencing for Linares is scheduled for late January.