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For Immediate Release: December 20, 2011

Santa Rosa Gang Member Convicted of 1st Degree Murder with Special Circumstances

District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced that today a Sonoma County jury found Fernando Mendoza, 23, of Santa Rosa, guilty of first degree murder with the special circumstance that it was a gang killing. The jury also convicted Mendoza of being an active gang participant, and several sentencing enhancements, including gun use and great bodily injury allegations. When he is sentenced on February 23, 2012, he faces a maximum sentence of Life in prison without parole plus 26 years to life.

District Attorney Ravitch stated, Today’s jury verdict sends a loud and clear message that Sonoma County will not tolerate killings motivated purely by gang rivalry and to enhance one’s status in the gang.

On April 6, 2009, at about 9:30 p.m., Victim Luis Suarez, 18, was walking in the area of Grand and Pressley Avenue in Santa Rosa. The defendant drove up to the victim, got out of his vehicle and shot him multiple times. Defendant was a member of the Angelino Heights Sureno criminal street gang and the victim, also of Santa Rosa, had associations with the Norteno criminal street gang. The victim was not armed at the time he was shot. He suffered four gunshots wounds to his side and one gunshot wound to his back.

Three individuals testified that the defendant came to a residence where they were staying the morning after the murder and bragged about killing the victim.

Victoria Shanahan was the prosecutor who handled this case along with District Attorney Denise Urton. Detectives Brad Conners and Andrew Riley of the Santa Rosa Police Department were the detectives who lead the investigation.


Contact Information

Terry Menshek
Media Coordinator
District Attorney’s Office
County of Sonoma
600 Administration Drive, Room 212 J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 565-3098 Work
(707) 565-2762 Work Fax

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