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Man prison bound for fatal drug shooting

Felon on run 12 years after 1998 killing

POSTED February 17, 2012 11:06 p.m.

A fatal shooting of a 19-year-old Turlock woman over a drug robbery has netted an 11-year prison term for the man who pulled the trigger.
Rene Mendosa, 37, a Mexican national, was on the run for 12 years after the 1998 shooting until he was captured in 2010.
Last week Mendosa agreed to plead no contest to a charge of voluntary manslaughter for the death of Alma Peralta. Mendosa was originally facing a murder charge for Peralta's death and an attempted murder charge for the shooting of Jose Saucedo, Peralta's cousin.
In an acknowledgement of the plea deal, the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office cited the difficulties of prosecuting "a case after more than a decade has passed."
The shooting occurred in the early hours of June 2, 1998, and was spurred by a drug robbery. Shortly after midnight, Peralta, along with the then 16-year-old Saucedo and two other 19-year-old men went to a Turlock residence occupied by Jose Villa and his girlfriend. According to the prosecution, Villa was Peralta's drug dealer and she had information that he was away from the home that night.
The four teenagers strong-armed their way into the home and forcibly robbed the girlfriend of the cocaine kept at the house.
Peralta and the others returned to a residence in the 600 block of Angelus Street and used the cocaine they had just stolen, according to the prosecution.
Around 3 a.m. Villa, armed with a pistol and accompanied by Mendosa, who was toting a shotgun, arrived at the Angelus residence and demanded the drugs be returned to them immediately.
An argument ensued between Peralta and Mendosa, and the Angelus homeowner, wary of the escalating tension, ordered them all out of the house.
The argument continued outside with both sides screaming at each other. The district attorney's office said Mendosa threatened Peralta with harm and then immediately followed up that threat by raising his shotgun and leveling it at the 19-year-old.
Mendosa fired four shots and three found Peralta. The Turlock Police Department described the shooting at the times as "an execution-style" murder.
Saucedo also sustained a gunshot wound that caused injuries to his back and arm.
Both Mendosa and Villa fled the state. Mendosa was caught in 2010 trying to sneak across the Texas-Mexico border by immigration authorities. A check into his background revealed the arrest warrant for murder issued by the TPD.
Villa remains a fugitive.

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