Defense cross-examines confessed accomplice in double murder trialPosted: Updated:
Yakima, WA - Defense attorneys grilled a confessed accomplice in the double murder trial for Jose Sanchez Junior.
Defense attorney Peter Mazzone started out by asking Mario "Gato" Mendez if he was a convicted felon, then tried to get him to admit to being a liar and a thief.
This provoked several objections from the prosecution and the judge had to ask the jury to leave the courtroom twice to sort things out.
From the get go, the defense tried to show the jury that Mendez was only out to save his own skin, not to come clean about the execution style murders of 21-year-old Ricky Causor and his three-year-old daughter.
"The phone and the fact that you had been picked out left you in a impossible situation," said Mazzone.
He hammered Mendez about losing his cell phone at the scene, saying he knew his only chance to avoid life in prison without parole was to cut a deal.
Mazzone also questioned Mendez about his account to prosecutors about what happened on that Sunday night two and a half years ago at Causor's apartment.
"If you were going to go and rob a house not knowing what's in the house, where they keep stuff in that house, you would have some people leave one room and go in another?" Mazzone asked.
To which, Mendez replied, "I don't believe Michelle (Ricky's girlfriend) was going to do nothin'."
Mazzone also tried to imply that gun Mendez says Sanchez used didn't belong to him.
"This was Gabe's gun?" he asked."
Mendez responded by saying "it wasn't all the time."
In an alarming twist, Mazzone implied through his cross examination that Mendez was actually with Sanchez's brother, Manuel, who the defense says has disappeared.
They also questioned how remorseful Mendes really is, getting him to admit that he used the marijuana and money they got from the robbery.
"So your only remorse extended far enough to enable you to smoke the pot and save the money?" Mazzone inquired.
"I've always felt remorse to this day," Mendez said
"We'll see about that," replied Mazzone.
Mendez spent almost five hours on the stand between his testimony today and yesterday.
The prosecution says it has one or two more witnesses to call including the lead detective in the case, who actually began testifying late this afternoon.
The whole trial could wrap up as soon as next week.