A man who ran from law enforcement for 12 years was in court Wednesday, charged with murdering an unarmed 19-year-old Turlock woman execution-style in 1998.
A prosecutor called the case "extreme," saying 36-year-old Rene Mendoza is accused of shooting Alma Peralta in the head at very close range with a shotgun.
He also is accused of the attempted murder of her friend, Jose Saucedo.
Mendoza will be arraigned July 26 on charges of murder, attempted murder and enhancements that could put him behind bars for 70 years to life, prosecutor Brad Nix said.
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Turlock police Capt. Mike Langston said Mendoza was taken into custody by immigration officials as he tried to cross the border from Mexico into Texas. He said a fingerprint analysis matched Mendoza to the Turlock case.
"We never really give up. These (cold cases) never go away," Langston said. "We look forward to the court process."
Investigators were able to talk to Mendoza three times by cell phone in the days after the June 2 shooting in the 600 block of Angelus Street in Turlock, Nix said. Authorities say they believe Peralta was killed because she stole drugs.
Police found Peralta's body on a grassy area near a curb in the neighborhood.
Nix said Mendoza was a "high flight risk" and a judge agreed to set bail at $2 million. Mendoza is in custody at the jail in downtown Modesto.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.