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Murder charges reinstated in Detroit firefighter death

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Murder charges were reinstated Tuesday against a Detroit woman and a Trenton man in the killing of veteran Detroit firefighter David Madrigal late last year.

Nicole Oneill talks to her attorney in court Tuesday.

Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Callahan on Tuesday reversed the dismissal by 36th District Judge Kenneth King of charges against Nicole Oneill and Christian Rasnick.

The Wayne County medical examiner says Madrigal died of blunt force trauma to the head, reportedly from a gym weight.

Stunned family members in court for Rasnick, dressed in dress pants and a shirt, cried out “Oh, no” as Callahan canceled Rasnick’s bond and immediately sent him to the Wayne County jail.

In reinstating the charges, Callahan said 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.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 6 for Oneill and Rasnick. Their trial is expected to begin Oct. 17.

A third defendant, Timmy Soto, has also been charged with murder, armed robbery and other related charges. His next court date is Sept. 12. A report on his competency is pending.

The 59-year-old’s body was found by his son around 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at his home on Vaughan on Detroit’s west side. His relatives say the house had been ransacked and a safe containing cash was missing.

Christian Rasnick

Police say Oneill, who knew Madrigal, went to his home with her boyfriend, Soto, and Rasnick. Oneill eventually left, leaving Soto and Rasnick in Madrigal’s home.

After allegedly killing Madrigal, Soto and Rasnick drove the victim’s vehicle to an alley near the 3800 block of Bangor, where it was set on fire. The vehicle was discovered just before 7 p.m. Dec. 19 after firefighters responded to a blaze in the area. The pair allegedly also took the safe with them.

Oneill and Soto had originally been charged with felony murder, armed robbery, third-degree arson and larceny in a building, but were not bound over on the murder charges.

On Tuesday, assistant Wayne County Prosecutor John Casey said a cap belonging to Oneill’s 7-year-old son connected her to the murder scene. Oneill allegedly had taken her child with her the day she, Soto and Rasnick went to the home. Casey said the cap was evidence that Oneill left Madrigal’s home “in haste” and said she “repeatedly” lied to investigators.

Rasnick’s attorney, Gabi Silver, told Callahan her client denies taking part in Madrigal’s murder saying, “I ain’t going to hit a sleeping person.” Silver added that when Rasnick was asked to take part in hitting Madrigal he refused.

“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,” Silver said Tuesday.

But Casey said Rasnick did not call the police or offer Madrigal any help.

Oneill’s attorney, Kimberly Stout, told the judge “a tragedy cannot guide the law” and her client should not be tried for Madrigal’s murder because she wasn’t involved in it since she wasn’t here when it occurred.

“There is no evidence here of felony murder,” Stout said. “You have to assist in some way.”

But Casey disagreed, saying “there was evidence in her own statements.” He read from court transcripts and quoted her as saying: “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.”

Police said Madrigal befriended the trio and they used his trust to gain entry into his home, rob and kill him.

The defendants were picked up after a three-month investigation that took Detroit police investigators to a number of communities, including Whitmore Lake and Gallatin, Tennessee.

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