Officials I.D. woman shot in face

Boyfriend facing murder charge; 'negligence' cited

07/05/2012 4:58 PM

07/07/2012 2:49 AM

A 20-year-old woman who investigators say was shot in the face and killed by her boyfriend Wednesday night at a Delhi residence has been identified as Mirisa Dinwiddie of Hilmar, according to the Merced County Coroner's Office.

Meanwhile, Fabio Mendonca, 21, remains held at the Mer-ced County Jail on suspicion of first- degree murder in the death of Dinwiddie at a home near Griffith and Schendel avenues, sheriff's department investigators said.

Sheriff's deputies haven't elaborated on the specific circumstances leading up to the shooting, although they've acknowledged that Mendonca claims the shooting wasn't on purpose.

On Thursday, sheriff's deputies said they now believe the shooting "wasn't necessarily intentional," although that doesn't mean Mendonca won't face criminal charges.

Sgt. Scott Dover, sheriff's spokesman, called the level of negligence in the case "outrageous," saying Mendonca should have known better.

"A shotgun is obviously very, very lethal, especially in close proximity, like in this case," Dover said. "Obviously, the gun was pointed at her head, at her face. And somehow it discharged. It appears that it wasn't intentional, but just the mere fact that you're pointing a firearm at someone's face, that's negligence in itself."

'Playing around'

Mendonca's family members also say the shooting was accidental. Odette Vieira, the defendant's mother, said she'd heard her son had been "playing around" with the gun when it went off.

Vieira said her son was in love with Dinwiddie, and the pair were engaged to be married. "He wouldn't have done that to her on purpose," she said.

Mendonca is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Merced County Superior Court.

It's still unknown whether Mendonca will be charged with a lesser crime, such as manslaughter. Chief Deputy District Attorney John Goold said his office hasn't reviewed Mendonca's case yet. The District Attorney's Office has until Monday to determine what charges Mendonca will face.

Deputies responded to the home around 8 p.m. Wednesday, and Dinwiddie was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mendonca is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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