Murder on Christmas Day: prosecutors seek death for man accused of killing teen as he walked home from work

It was a Christmas tragedy in west Phoenix.

It happened in 2020, when Tyler Cardiel was murdered while walking home. Now, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the man accused of killing the 18-year-old.

The suspect, Timothy Bell, has been sitting in Maricopa County Jail for more than a year, awaiting trial. He is charged with several crimes, including premeditated first-degree murder, but the felony convictions already on his record became more serious ov

Victim's mother remembers teen

Nowadays, Tyler's bedroom is where Monique Cardiel finds her sanctuary.

Inside the room, Tyler's things remain exactly where he left it: his headset, his phone, and the radio he never turned off. It's as if Tyler was home at a particular moment.

"It's kind of a sacred spot," said Monique. "Nobody comes in here but me."

Monique has honored her first-born with ink, with her right arm now transformed into a canvas of tattooed reminders.

"This is northwest, and the coordinates north and west. If you Google them on Google Maps, it will take you to where he was killed," said Monique.

The direction Monique was referring to brings her back to the worst day of her life.

"Basically, my worst nightmare that I relive every day, over and over and over," said Monique. "Waking up, the first thing I think of is him, and knowing that he's gone, it's like my heart breaks all over again."

Tyler killed after work

On Christmas Eve 2020, Tyler headed to work at a Circle K near 83rd Avenue and Indian School.

"It was his first Christmas away from us, so I was sad, and he was walking out the door and I looked at him and I was like 'you have to go?' and he was like 'I'm just going to work. I'll be back later,' and he turned around and gave me a hug," Monique recounted.

On Christmas Day, however, Tyler never finished his walk back home.

Monique says she knew something was wrong as texts and calls went unanswered. She looked for her son, only to find Phoenix Police officers and crime tape.

Tyler was dead, after being shot four times.

"I just wish I could hold him again and tell him 'I’m sorry,'" said Monique. "I'm sorry that I failed him."

Suspect involved in other crimes, police say

For the next week after Tyler was murdered, detectives searched for the suspect, who was seen on surveillance video at the Circle K just a few hours before the shooting.

The man hung around, and came in and out before Tyler's shift ended. Police say some clothes left behind at the scene of the shooting matched what the suspect wore at the convenience store.

Just two days prior, police investigated an armed robbery, in which they say the same man stole a gun from a 19-year-old.

"He turned around, pointed the gun at my head, and said 'screw you,' basically, and pulled the trigger," said the victim of the theft, identified as Jayce Young, in Jan. 19. 2021. "I don't keep one in the chamber if it's not holstered, so I would not be here today if not for that."  

Investigators say that Glock 9mm handgun would ultimately be used in Tyler's murder, fired by Bell, who is a prohibited possessor.

"I'm very upset as to what happened from the 23rd, when he got that gun, to the time that my son was killed," said Monique. "Like, I don't know. Was there an effort to look for this man that took this kid's gun?"

A week later, officers found Bell with a gunshot wound to his head, after responding to a suicide attempt. He survived, and according to investigators, DNA found on clothing left at the scene of the Christmas murder matched Bell.

"It was Christmas. He was just coming home. I wish I could ask him 'why,'" said Monique. "Like, 'why my son?'"

Court documents reveal details surrounding suspect

According to court documents, Bell became enraged because he was 'homeless, it was raining' and he was tired of 'sleeping in the cold,' and that 'rage made him shoot someone.'

Authorities say Bell has been homeless since at least 2013. Bell has also been arrested several times, and convicted of felonies that started off as drug offenses, then forgery, misconduct involving weapons and theft. He also did nearly two years in prison from 2015 to 2017.

In November 2019, Bell was arrested again, after Phoenix Police officials say he threatened someone and robbed them for a burrito. He ended up pleading guilty to theft.

Bell could be put to death if convicted for Tyler's murder

Now, Bell's troubled past and criminal record will be brought up as 'aggravating factors,' as the Maricopa County Attorney's Office recently filed a notice of intent to seek the Death Penalty if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

It is a possibility Monique did not expect.

"I wouldn’t be opposed to it," said Monique. "I guess an eye for an eye, if it does happen."

Monique said it is justified, but she says what matters most is a conviction and prison sentence for the murder of her son.

"As long as he spends the rest of his life behind bars and never sets foot out as a free man, that's all I want," said Monique. "I don't want him on the streets to hurt anybody else at all."

Currently, Monique and Tyler's younger brother are getting counseling.

Bell, meanwhile, refused to talk about the case in an interview we proposed. His trial is set for November 2022.

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