Wife’s rage boils over at accused spouse
Husband is confronted outside court in Albion after denying guilt in sister-in-law’s slaying
ALBION ? Before her husband was brought into Town Court here Thursday afternoon to answer a charge that he murdered her sister last month, Kimberly Cardenas told reporters, "I want to jump on him and strangle him."
She wasn’t kidding.
After Carlos A. Cardenas was taken out of court following a two-minute arraignment, Kimberly Cardenas bolted from the chamber, ran out of Town Hall and sprinted to confront her husband as sheriff’s deputies led him away.
Officers and friends restrained Kimberly Cardenas as she screamed at her husband, who told investigators that he stashed his sister-in-law’s body in his basement for four days before burying it in an apple orchard.
The 21-year-old man pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Town Justice Kevin J. Howard ordered Cardenas bound over for action by an Orleans County grand jury.
Assistant District Attorney Katherine K. Bogan said the case should be presented within the next month or so.
During the court session, Kimberly Cardenas sat in the front row, perhaps 4 feet from her husband. As the charge was read, she wept and clenched her fists.
“I want him to be hit with the death penalty,” she had told reporters a few minutes earlier.
Asked whether her presence in court was to support her husband, she said, "No, it’s no support for him. I don’t want him in my life."
She turned her rage toward her husband as he was led to a patrol car to be taken back to jail. Tears welled in her eyes as she repeated the sentiments, in much more pointed terms, that she had shared with reporters in court.
Kimberly and Carlos Cardenas have been married for about a year. In an 11-page signed confession to police, he said he accidentally strangled his wife’s sister, Katherine “Katy” Sanchez, 15, on Jan. 15 in the bathroom of the couple’s home on East State Street.
Katy was baby-sitting Kimberly’s two young sons that night, but when Kimberly returned home, her husband was there and said he didn’t know where Katy was.
Carlos Cardenas said in the police statement that he grabbed the teen around the neck after having sex with her in the bathroom. He said it was the second time in five days they had intercourse.
“I then told Katy that I don’t want to do this anymore because of Kimberly,” Carlos Cardenas wrote in the statement to State Police investigators. "Katy said that she was going to tell Kimberly."
Carlos told investigators that as Katy reached for the bathroom door, "I reached to cover her mouth. She moved her head and as I put my right arm around her neck to stop her from leaving the bathroom, Katy’s back was against my front. Katy then began pulling my hair, right side of my head. … I held on to her for a short time; I don’t know for how long. Katy let go of my hair, and then I let her go. When I took my arm off her neck, she fell to the ground and was unconscious."
The defendant’s statement includes lengthy details about how he placed the corpse in a blue plastic tub and hauled it out of the house, shoving the tub into his car and driving it to a Town of Ridgeway orchard, where it was found last week.
Cardenas has not been charged with intentional murder. The only charge against him at his arrest last Friday came under a section of the murder statute covering killing with “depraved indifference to human life.” If convicted on the charge, he could face 25 years to life in prison.
Bogan, the prosecutor, would not comment on whether other charges would be sought from the grand jury.
The statement includes a confession to two instances of sex with a girl under the age of consent, which is 17, so Cardenas also would appear vulnerable to two counts of statutory rape.
Katy’s disappearance originally was investigated as a missing-persons case. The media were not informed until three weeks after she had been reported missing.
Albion police denied reports that they had dismissed concerns of foul play when Katy was first reported missing. The girl’s aunt, Aster Martinez, told The Buffalo News that investigators had first believed she had run away.
“We had 70 reports of missing persons last year alone, and we take every report very seriously,” Albion police Staff Sgt. Timothy S. Boyer said. "It doesn’t matter if the report is about a young child or a 40-year-old person. We always look at every missing person report as a crime. We don’t take anything off the table."
Boyer said they received a report from the family Jan. 19, five days after the girl was last seen. That happened to be the same day Cardenas said he buried the body.
While Boyer declined to discuss the details of their investigation, he did say, "When we first get a report like this, we have a strategy and have to try to figure out what way the case is going. The media can be an invaluable tool when we are looking for information."
He said police also had some discussions with the family about how Cardenas, because of his status as an illegal alien ? he is a Mexican citizen ? might have fled if he knew he was suspected of a role in the disappearance.
“It makes people speculate when we don’t release information fast enough,” Boyer said.
Katherine was described by family as a good student, friendly, who never got into trouble at school. She was the third of six children and had attended Albion High School.