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Execution Urged for Man Who Killed 3 Children

September 25, 1997| From Associated Press

SAN BERNARDINO — A jury has recommended execution for a Nevada man who killed three children after following his wife to the California desert, where she tried to escape a violent marriage.

Martin Mendoza, dwarfed by the seven marshals who escorted him to the defendant's bench and removed his shackles, listened Tuesday to the decision through earphones as a translator spoke Spanish softly into a microphone.

The 34-year-old construction worker was convicted Aug. 28 of killing stepchildren Sandra Resendez, 13, and Eric Resendez, 11, and his niece, Wendy Cervantes, 11, last year in Landers.

Superior Court Judge James A. Edwards scheduled sentencing for Nov. 21. The judge may accept the jury's recommendation or impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to testimony, Mendoza followed his wife to Landers, where she was staying with relatives. A week earlier, she had left Mendoza in Carson City, where he had just received a 30-day suspended sentence for hitting Sandra with a belt and pushing her down.

Mendoza found the children in the yard getting ready to go to school. Someone called for help. Deputies driving up to the frontyard watched as he held Sandra in a headlock and shot her.

His wife, Rocio Cervantes, testified that before shooting Sandra, he raged that the child had informed on him for allegedly sexually abusing her.

Rocio Cervantes ran into the house. Mendoza shot at a car full of children waiting to go to school, according to testimony. He also shot at two patrol cars, missing the deputies. One officer shot him in the shoulder before he was taken down and handcuffed.

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