Robin Mendez sentenced to life in prison
Story and photos by Lori Adler, reporter
Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Jill Falstad sentenced Robin Mendez to life in prison Tuesday. Mendez was found guilty in April of this year of the 1982 murder of his then wife, Barbara Mendez.
Several people were presented by District Attorney Michael Schiek to make statements prior to the sentencing. Appearing by phone, daughter of Robin and Barbara Mendez, Dawn Shape, who was 13 at the time of the murder, said “I wanted to take this moment to speak forth the word of God,” and she then read Psalm 23 into the official court record.
Two sisters of Barbara Mendez, Nancy Muth and Diane Blazkowski both appeared before the judge and made statements regarding Robin Mendez and how the murder of their sister altered their lives including keeping their nieces from them. “He didn’t stop at killing Barb; he removed his daughters from our lives,” Muth stated, adding later, “Barb didn’t pass away; she was murdered, and her murderer has been living a free life all these years, no more.”
Blazkowski’s remarks were aimed more at Robin Mendez’ character, stating, “if the opportunity arises for parole, my answer would be no. My sister didn’t have a second chance at life.”
Christopher Wadas, husband of Christy Wadas who is the younger daughter of Robin and Barbara Mendez, spoke on Christy’s behalf. He noted that he and Christy had been married 18 years and that it was about 17 years ago when Christy realized her father killed her mother, and so a good majority of their married life has been spent focused on this case. He also noted the toll it has taken on his family. “The impact that he has had is like a rock in the middle of a pond, and the ripples just went down and surrounded and touched everybody,” Wadas stated.
Following the four statements by family members, Judge Falstad outlined the key elements of the case and said, “Mr. Mendez got away with this heinous and vicious murder for decades through lies and manipulation that certainly speaks to not only the gravity of the crime but to his character as well.” Judge Falstad also noted that the daughters of Barbara Mendez suffered greatly from the loss of their mother and that the crime has affected many for years. She stated, “The court must conclude that this crime was extremely grave, serious and depraved. It has resulted in untold trauma and damage to both of these daughters and all of the families and it has gone on for generations.”
Judge Falstad referred to Robin Mendez as “callous, selfish and seemingly has no conscience.” She referred to the behavior of Mendez, who is also a convicted sex offender, as “predatory and repetitive.” She stated, “He shows no insight or empathy for his victims and that is similar to his treatment of his two daughters after he murdered their mother,” later adding, “The court finds that Mr. Mendez has a character that includes callous disregard for the well being of others, especially children, and a character with traits of dishonesty, manipulation and extreme selfishness.”
“He is clearly a threat to the public, and the court’s sentence must serve to protect the public,” Judge Falstad stated as she delivered the sentence of life in prison for Robin Mendez. Defending attorney, Peter Pruzinski, made note to the court of Mendez age and health conditions and requested that this be taken into account when determining in which prison he will serve his sentence. In addition to the life imprisonment sentence, Judge Falstad also ordered Mendez to have no contact with Christy Wadas or her family. Dawn Shape requested the option of contact for herself if she chose to do so in the future. Mendez has 534 days of credit toward his sentence, and based upon laws at the time of the murder in 1982, will be eligible for parole at 13 years of time served.