Mendez is guilty as charged; Judge rules the state has met its burden of proof
By Lori C. Adler, reporter
Marathon County Circuit Judge Jill Falstad ruled in favor of the state Tuesday, finding Robin Mendez guilty of the 1982 murder of his then wife, Barbara Mendez. After a week-long deliberation, Judge Falstad took over an hour outlining her reasons for her decision before delivering her verdict.
Judge Falstad remarked that when no jury is present and the ruling is on the judge alone to determine, “The court must provide an explanation.” Judge Falstad then went on to address the hypotheses brought forth by the defense as Denny evidence. She ruled that Raymond Norris as an accomplice to a murder was not credible, adding that he admitted to making false statements as a ploy to get a lighter sentence. Judge Falstad also ruled the defense did not provide a reasonable hypothesis that Thomas Boze committed the murder either.
In response to Robin Mendez’s alibi, Judge Falstad stated that the two Mendez daughters, Dawn (Mendez) Shape and Christy (Mendez) Wadas, do not serve as alibi witnesses. “The court finds”, Judge Falstad outlined, “their father used them to construct an alibi for himself, “citing both daughters’ testimonies that they were coached by Mendez as to how to respond to police questioning.
Working toward her decision, Judge Falstad went on to address evidence and witness testimonies for the state. She determined that Mendez did have a motive to kill his wife, explaining that he feared the discovery of his sexual abuse of then minor Jodi (Lesert) Rolloff. Further examining witness testimonies, Judge Falstad ruled that there was evidence to support that Barbara Mendez had locked the doors to the bank prior to closing and therefore opened the door for the murderer. “Who in the world would Ms. Mendez allow in the bank after closing?” Judge Falstad questioned. She then added, “The list is short,” explaining that Barbara Mendez would only allow her supervisor, who was home ill, her daughters, who were home eating dinner, or her then husband, Robin Mendez.
Judge Falstad then finished her detailed explanation with the statements of a confession by Mendez from two inmates who had been celled with him shortly after his arrest for the murder charges. Closely examining the testimonies of both witnesses, as well as that of Oneida County investigator, Captain Terri Hook, Judge Falstad simply stated, “The court finds the two inmates’ information is credible, and the only source of that information was Robin Mendez.” The judge explained, “This is a confession.” Judge Falstad then stated, “The court finds Robin Mendez guilty of first-degree intentional homicide of Barbara Mendez.”
Following the ruling, Dawn (Mendez) Shape made a statement explaining that it would take time to work through all her emotions, adding, “I am relying on my faith.” Captain Hook also commented on the ruling, stating, “I had a great team of detectives,” noting that work also done by previous investigators was equally important, further remarking, “Every step of this case had to be there.” Captain Hook finished her comments by simply stating that the goal of the entire case was to ensure that Mendez “would never hurt anyone again.” Though the ruling was made Tuesday, sentencing will take place at a later date, in approximately 60 to 90 days.