By Julietta Bisharyan
FRESNO – After residing in Fresno for 29 years and bearing three children, Juana Elizabeth Mendoza allegedly cut open her husband’s arm on Jun. 3, as revealed during an arraignment in Fresno County Superior Court.
She claims it was self-defense. She’ll have her chance to argue that later in August at a preliminary hearing.
Mendoza is charged with assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, and child abuse and endangerment.
According to police reports read by Deputy District Attorney Heather Spurling, Mendoza sliced her husband in the arm with a knife, resulting in a quarter inch deep, three-inch-long cut. The defendant and alleged victim’s two-year-old child was standing in the doorway of the bedroom where the incident occurred.
Spurling described the cut as “very bloody” and “disturbing to look at.”
During the arraignment, the court appointed Assistant Public Defender Shawn Benjamin to represent the defendant. Mendoza then pleaded not guilty, denying any allegations and enhancements. She did not, however, object to a full criminal protective order for the alleged victim, her husband. Benjamin requested that the protective order be amenable to change in family law court.
Spurling asked for two separate protective orders for the two alleged victims—Mendoza’s husband and her child.
Judge Glenda Allen-Hill said that Mendoza can have contact with her child if the family court permits it.
The next issue was Mendoza’s bail. She posted bail in the amount of $45,000, but the bail schedule amount is more than triple that—at $150,000. Spurling is asking for the scheduled bail amount, given that a weapon was used causing great bodily injury.
Judge Allen-Hill lowered the bail to $80,000—still nearly twice as much as the defendant posted.
Benjamin informed the court that although the police report does allege that a knife was used, a statement from the defendant says that it was used in self-defense. He argued that the community and cooperating witness are not at risk and that the defendant does not have any prior criminal history.
Benjamin also noted that Mendoza was present at court and he does not predict any future failures to appear. Furthermore, he mentioned that the bail amount she posted was the amount that was required of her at the time.
Judge Allen-Hill concluded that she is not prepared to determine Mendoza’s level of risk without having further information from pretrial services. The court referred the matter to pretrial services and allowed her to remain out of custody, pending the next hearing date despite a higher bail requirement.
The court issued a full no-contact protective order for both parties, including the minor child. If Mendoza wishes to have contact with her child, she will have the option to go through family court to request an order, the judge said.
A pre-preliminary hearing is Aug. 19 at 8:30 am.
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