Israel Lomeli Receives Probation in 1998 Phoenix Cold-Case Slaying of Pete Cadriel
Lomeli's high-publicity March 2013 arrest marked the end of tragic saga for the family of victim Pete Cadriel, who disappeared without a trace in 1998. The missing-persons case was solved partially in 2009 after police matched DNA from an unidentified body to Cadriel, and a new criminal investigation began that later led to Lomeli.
Police speculated publicly that an argument over burglarized items caused Lomeli, who was 16 at the time, to kill his 17-year-old friend.
But Lomeli now says the fatal shooting resulted from "horse play" with a shotgun.
Prosecutors with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office initially filed a direct complaint against Lomeli on charges of second-degree murder and possession of methamphetamine. But a new plea deal was tailored in November following a grand jury indictment on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
On December 20, Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield sentenced Lomeli to one year of probation, with the condition that he serve a year in county jail. With credit for the time he's served since his arrest, Lomeli will be released from jail on March 20, court records state.
In a news conference held by police following Lomeli's arrest, Cadriel's family spoke of their heartache in not knowing what had happened to the teen. Pictures and information were posted on missing-persons websites describing how he was last seen on July 17, 1998, in Phoenix. His sister kept in touch with Lomeli over the years, having no clue he was responsible for Cadriel's disappearance and murder, according to an article in the Arizona Republic:
"[Lomeli] would smile in my face and say, 'One day we're going to find him,' like he was my true friend," Ruth Santos said.Advances in DNA technology allowed police to determine in 2009 that a decomposed corpse found in an alley behind the Brunswick bowling alley at 7241 West Indian School actually was the missing teen, Pete Cadriel. Police later interviewed witnesses who recalled seeing Lomeli performing an unusual scrubbing of the floor of his bedroom, which actually was the garage of the home. Another witness said he'd helped move a garbage can with Lomeli and that Lomeli had told him at the time that it contained Cadriel's body.
Police discovered that Lomeli, Cadriel, and other teens were part of a group of good friends who burglarized a home in July 1998. Investigators' theory was that Lomeli got into a squabble with Cadriel while the two were by themselves at Lomeli's house, leading to the fatal shotgun blast.
Israel Lomeli in his 2013 mugshot
The week of Lomeli's March 2013 arrest, police served a search warrant on the suspect's former residence and found Cadriel's blood.
According to Lomeli, who's 33 this month, the shooting was a tragic accident.