By Natalia Ruvalcaba
RIVERSIDE, CA – Alfredo Castellano Mendoza is facing charges here in Riverside County Superior Court of dissuading, threatening, and intimidating a witness as well as tampering with a vehicle after he was discovered under a parked car later found to have damages.
The owner of the vehicle that Mendoza is being accused of tampering with told police that her car broke down on the night of Dec. 7, 2020. “Jane Doe” would then decide to leave her car, and return the next day in the afternoon.
However, the report notes that when Jane Doe returned the next day with her son-in-law, Mendoza and an accomplice were at her vehicle.
The police officer who initially responded to the 911 call said when the victim arrived at the scene, she saw one man on the driver’s side, trying to get into the vehicle and another on the underneath of the passenger’s side.
According to officer, she then proceeded to ask the two men what they were doing, to which they responded that they were simply fixing the car and she should not call the police. The event then escalated, and the victim said she felt threatened and in fear for her safety.
Assistant Public Defender Wesley Chang asked the officer, “Why did she feel threatened?” The officer said the male under the vehicle, suspect Mendoza, held a metal bar in an intimidating manner, according to the victim
Chang proceeded to question the account of the officer, noting that the victim and son-in-law knew little to no English.
But the officer insisted that Jane Doe recounted the beginning proceedings of the event.
PD Chang asked if there was a certified interpreter or translator. And the officer said his fluency in Spanish was limited and that he had only spent a semester in high school studying the subject, and he also admitted that he didn’t call a deputy who could interpret Spanish, and rather, received assistance from the mechanic.
PD Chang asked when he mechanic arrived, and the officer said later, but the officer said he failed to take down any information from the man.
Chang asked if, at any point, the male suspect approached the victim, to which officer responded, “No.” He reported that after the suspect raised the metal bar, that Mendoza and his accomplice ran to the parked SUV behind the victim’s car and drove off.
The officer told PD Chang that the victim took a photo of the car, and when he ran the plates, it led him to Mendoza. However, although the officer said there was a cut in the tailpipe, he failed to get fingerprints from the exhaust pipe.
The counsel had nothing further to add, and Judge Randall Stamen called the attorneys to the sidebar.
Mendoza’s attorney, PD Chang, filed a 17(b) motion to reduce the charges to misdemeanors, but the judge denied it and set a mandatory settlement conference for Dec. 20.