30ºF

Detroit firefighter's beating death: Man sentenced to 40 years in prison

David Madrigal beaten to death in December 2015

DETROIT – David Madrigal was beaten to death in his home on Vaughn Street in December 2015.

Police said an upstairs bedroom at the 59-year-old Detroit firefighter's home had been ransacked and a safe was missing. Timmy Soto is one of three people charged in connection to the killing. He was sentenced Wednesday to a minimum of 40 years in prison.

"I apologize to the family for what I did. I was wrong. I wasn't in the right state of mind," Soto said in court. 

Before the judge handed down Soto's sentencing, Madrigal's daughter spoke about her special relationship with her father and how she hopes justice can be served. 

"(This was a) blatant disregard for human life," said Christina Madrigal. 

Watch their courtroom statements: 

Soto, 32, Nicole O'Neill, 33, and 19-year-old Christian Rasnick all originally were charged with felony murder, armed robbery, arson and larceny. After Madrigal's murder and the home's ransacking, Soto and Rasnick stole Madrigal's SUV, drove it to an alley and set it on fire, prosecutors said.

Judge Kenneth King ruled during a preliminary hearing in May that O'Neill and Rasnick would not stand trial on felony murder charges in Madrigal's death. He also dismissed a felony burglary charge against O'Neill and an arson charge against Rasnick. King expressed his condolences, but said there was no evidence that O'Neill and Rasnick participated in the homicide.

"Supposedly, these people went there with no gun, no weapon, unarmed, and Mr. Soto picks up a weight and hits Mr. Madrigal with it," he 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."

King told the family he couldn't determine Rasnick knew someone would be killed during the alleged larceny, and said the evidence made it harder to attach O'Neill to the crimes.

"Evidence was very, very light in what she did to help" with alleged murder, he told the family.

Charges reinstated

Despite King's decision to dismiss charges, Judge Michael Callahan ruled in September to reinstate felony murder and armed robbery counts against Rasnick and O'Neill. 

Rasnick pleaded guilty to second degree murder in October, and the remaining charges were dismissed. He is set to be sentenced Thursday, Dec. 15. 

Meanwhile, O'Neill's trial has been pushed back to March 8, 2017. 

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit breaking news alerts and email newsletters


About the Authors: