Murder suspect to be freed over paperwork error

November 18, 2011 4:28:50 PM PST
Because someone forgot to file certain paperwork, a Fort Bend County man accused of murdering his friend will walk out of jail in a couple of days. It's what might happen after that that has the victim's family worried.

Fort Bend District Attorney John Healey admits his office made a mistake. He calls it "unfortunate" that this murder suspect is being released on bond as a result of that mistake.

Richard Mendoza, Jr., will soon be released on bond because no charges were filed in the 90 days since his arrest.

"Injustice, absolute, total injustice," Samantha Talley, the victim's aunt, told Eyewitness News. "Fort Bend County said that they made a mistake -- and it's a big mistake -- and that they are letting a murderer walk free from this courtroom."

Missouri City Police say Mendoza killed 17-year-old Christopher Daigle in 2003. The case went unsolved for years. But detectives kept working the case and returned to a rural area between Arcola and Juliff off FM 521 in Fort Bend County. There, they found bones now determined to be human. Family says DNA tests have preliminarily determined the remains belonged to Daigle.

"We were waiting until we got a more complete picture based upon DNA testing," Healey said.

Healey says he blames himself for the oversight. He says his prosecutor has been sanctioned but will not say how.

He added, "The bottom line is my office made a mistake and I accept full responsibility for it."

Under the law, Judge Pedro Ruiz saw no alternative but to release Mendoza on bond. He set a $75,000 bond, but it's a type of bond that requires no down payment. Mendoza, however, will be required to have no contact with Daigle's family and his location will constantly be monitored by satellite.

Daigle's mother Tracie Gregory fears Mendoza will run.

"The district attorney forgot the date. She forgot to file," she said. "I don't understand how that can happen on something very important like a murder. If it was their child, they wouldn't have forgotten."

Mendoza won't be released until he can be set up with that satellite monitoring system and that won't happen until at least Monday. The victim's family says they fear that he might come after them. Mendoza's attorney insists his client isn't a threat to anyone, nor is he a threat to flee.


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