December 14, 2010

Sentencing delayed in case involving murder of Golden Valley High School student

Sentencing was delayed until Jan. 20 for the man found guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime and accessory in the killing of Golden Valley High School wrestler DeAngelo Smith.

Juan Manuel Mendez's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sean Howard, said in court Tuesday that he planned to file a motion for a retrial by the next court date.

Judge Brian McCabe also denied a motion filed by Howard to release the contact information for the jurors who convicted Mendez of the crimes.

Mendez was acquitted of murder in November by the 12-person jury. He was accused of being the getaway driver in the May shooting of Smith and a 16-year-old boy at the Sunnyside Apartments.

The jury convicted him on two felony counts of being an accessory in the killing and one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime. Those counts included enhancements for committing the crime for the benefit of a street gang and use of a firearm. Mendez faces a maximum of two life terms behind bars.

Smith, 17, and a 16-year-old boy were shot May 14 while sitting on a park bench at the apartments at 988 D St. in Merced. The 16-year-old victim recovered, but Smith died shortly after being shot.

Howard said that he's filing a motion by the next court date for a retrial, or a clarification on the verdict, because it's ambiguous.

Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or joppenheim@ mercedsun-star.com.

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