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1 of 3 accused in firefighter’s slaying pleads guilty

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

One of three people charged in the death of a veteran Detroit firefighter pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the man’s slaying.

Christian Rasnick, who made the plea before Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Callahan, told the judge he went to David Madrigal’s Detroit home as part of a plan to commit a robbery. Rasnick, 20, according to his defense attorney Gabi Silver, was there for a larceny not for a murder when Madrigal was killed. Silver said Rasnick did not harm Madrigal.

Rasnick will spend 10-30 years in prison for the crime as part of his plea deal. He was scheduled to go to trial for felony murder and could have faced mandatory life in prison had he been convicted. He is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 15.

Two others, Nicole Oneill and Timmy Lynn Soto face trial Dec. 1 for Madrigal’s robbery and slaying.

Madrigal’s body was found Dec. 21 in his home on Vaughan on Detroit’s west side. The 59-year-old firefighter’s family said his home had been ransacked. A safe containing cash was missing.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner concluded Madrigal died of blunt force trauma to the head, reportedly from a gym weight.

In August, Callahan reinstated murder charges against Rasnick saying he was “clearly a participant” in what turned out to be an armed robbery and killing of Madrigal.

Silver said her client’s role in the plan was to carry the safe to another location, which he did.

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.

During a hearing in August, Silver, told Callahan that Rasnick denied 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 during the Aug. 23 hearing.

Prosecutors say Rasnick did not call the police or offer Madrigal any help.

Silver said Rasnick’s case is a reminder that someone who is involved in a crime that leads to murder can be held just as responsible as if they actually pulled the trigger. “I tell young people in for a penny, in for a pound.”

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

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027