Timmy Soto, Christian Rasnick, and Nicole O’Neill are behind bars for the murder of a firefighter, David Madrigal Sr., whose body was found inside his home in Detroit, Michigan.
On Dec. 21, 2015, David Jr. tried contacting his father via cell phone, but it kept going to voicemail.
He found it a bit peculiar that he wasn’t able to get a hold of him, so he decided to go to his house on Vaughn Street, which is on the city’s west side, according to Click On Detroit.
When he arrived, he went inside the house and called out to his father, but there was no response. Moments later, he found David Sr. dead.
At the trial, David Jr. said, “He was laid back in his recliner with his feet up. There was “Blood coming out of his nose, forehead, and ears.”
He also said he thought his father had killed himself, as he had reportedly been suffering from depression.
But David Jr. soon realized that it wasn’t a suicide when he discovered the upstairs bedroom had been ransacked and a safe containing $1,000 cash and two guns were missing.
Emergency first responders arrived at the scene and arranged for David Sr.’s body to be transported to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.
The results revealed that David Sr. died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Before his death, David Sr. had plans to retire in June 2015 after working for the Detroit Fire Department for more than two decades.
His daughter told FREEP that “it’s devastating that instead of celebrating as a family, we’re here to make sure my dad [SIC] get some sort of justice because he was killed for $1,000.”
She added, “He dedicated his life to the Detroit Fire Department. He actually had his retirement party planned when he died, he had already rented Belle Isle.”
At around 6:56 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2015, which was two days before David Sr. was found dead inside his home, firefighters discovered his black Ford Explorer in an alley near the 3800 block of Bangor, Fox 2 Detroit reported.
It was still on fire when they arrived.
Following a three-month investigation, Detroit police arrested Timmy Soto, then 32, Christian Rasnick, then 19, and then 33-year-old Nicole O’Neill in March 2011.
They were charged with felony murder, armed robbery, arson, and larceny.
The trio was booked into the Wayne County Jail, where they were held without bond.
During a police interrogation, Soto, who has a lengthy and violent criminal history, told investigators that David Sr. invited him to have drinks at his home on December 19, 2015.
Rasnick and O’Neill joined him.
While there, Soto claimed that David Sr. began hitting on O’Neill and touching her.
When he saw that, he said it “caused him to have flashbacks to witnessing sexual abuse in the past,” and it made him snap, MLive reported.
Soto and Rasnick then left to purchase drugs. When they returned, Soto explained that he noticed David Sr. was dozing off in his recliner chair.
That’s when he picked up a gym weight plate and struck David Sr. on the head—twice.
Soto, Rasnick, and O’Neill then stole a safe and fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle.
They drove around for a while before going to a friend’s basement, where they cracked the safe open with a hammer and crowbar.
They found $1,000 inside.
Soto and Rasnick split the money before they drove to an alley and set David Sr.’s car on fire.
During a preliminary hearing, Judge Kenneth King ruled that Rasnick and O’Neill would not stand trial for felony murder, as there was no evidence indicating that they participated in David’s murder.
“Supposedly, these people went there with no gun, no weapon, unarmed, and Mr. Soto picks up a weight and hits Mr. Madrigal with it,” King said.
“Even though they had guilty knowledge of what was to take place, and they were present, what we’re looking at is the state of the mind of the defendants when the actions took place.”
After the murder charges were dismissed, an assistant prosecutor and Worthy spokesperson, Maria Miller, said: “We believe that we presented evidence to show there was probable cause to believe the two defendants committed felony murder.”
On Aug. 23, 2016, Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Callahan reversed the dismissal of the felony charges against O’Neill and Rasnick.
Callahan stated that “Rasnick was clearly a participant in what turned out to be an armed robbery and murder of Madrigal.
He also said Oneill helped get Soto and Rasnick into Madrigal’s home,” The Detroit News reported.
Gabi Silver, who is Rasnick’s defense attorney, told the judge that his client denied having any part in David Sr.’s killing.
Silver added, “He went along with a plan Mr. Soto told him in the beginning but when asked to take the plan further he said, ‘no I’m not doing it.'”
O’Neill’s attorney, Kimberly Stout, also told Judge Callahan that her client shouldn’t be charged with the murder because she wasn’t involved, but Wayne County Prosecutor John Casey disagreed.
He said, “There was evidence in her own statements.” Casey then began reading court transcripts and quoted O’Neill as saying the following: “Tim (Soto) wanted to take his money. I told him no.”
“I know what he was thinking, but I didn’t know it was going to go that far.”
All suspects were charged with David Sr.’s murder.
In October 2016, Rasnick pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The following month, he was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison.
O’Neill also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 20 to 50 years in prison.
Soto took a deal and pleaded guilty to felony murder and felony firearms charges.
He then apologized to the victim’s family in court. He said, “I apologize to the family for what I did. I was wrong. I wasn’t in the right state of mind.”
Soto was sentenced to 40 years in prison.