Case proceeding in College City murder
After a month-long delay, the case against the woman charged in the August shooting death of a College City man is back on track, authorities reported.
Cathy Mendoza, 31, appeared in Colusa County Superior Court briefly Wednesday. Mendoza waived arraignment and public defender Albert Smith was reassigned to represent her, court records state.
Mendoza is charged with the murder of Jose Villarruel Saavedra in August. She pleaded not guilty in September.
Mendoza was released from the Colusa County Jail on Jan. 11 after two key prosecution witnesses disappeared, reportedly fleeing to Mexico, Colusa District Attorney John Poyner said.
Mendoza was booked and released from the jail Wednesday, jail staff confirmed.
Poyner said Thursday that prosecutors have located both witnesses and are working to secure temporary visas for both men so they can testify at the upcoming trial. Prosecutors have declined to release their names.
"We're working on them now and hope to get them here as soon as possible," said Poyner, who declined to speculate on a time estimate for their return.
In addition to Saavedra's death, Mendoza was charged with two enhancements for reportedly using a short-barreled shotgun to commit the crime, court records state.
Saavedra, 26, was shot once in the upper chest, close to his neck with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun on Aug. 30.
The incident began at the LaEsconeda Bar on Main Street in College City. Mendoza's boyfriend reportedly got into an altercation with one of her ex-boyfriends, but the Sheriff's Office was not called, authorities said.
Mendoza and her boyfriend reportedly returned to her home with several guests. About one hour later, the ex-boyfriend showed up at her home with two relatives, one of which was Saavedra.
Their intentions were not clear to investigators, but they were not carrying any weapons, authorities said.
As the three men approached Mendoza's gated property, she reportedly retrieved the shotgun and told them to leave. One of the men had already made it over the fence and Saavedra was reportedly climbing the fence when he was shot once in the neck.
Mendoza was standing about three to five feet in front of Saavedra and fired shortly after giving some type of verbal warning, prosecutors said.
Smith acknowledged Mendoza's alleged role in the incident during the preliminary hearing in October.
"She shot the man," Smith said in October, explaining that a jury would have to decide if she was defending herself.
She is due back in court next Wednesday and is expected to enter a plea at that time, court staff confirmed.
Contact Rob Parsons at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.