Officers upset over immigrant's punishment

HOUSTON Moises Mendez robbed three convenience stores, including one on Loop 494 in southern Montgomery County, and then shot at the store clerk and a Houston police officer. Now the judge who sentenced him for his crimes is being criticized by the law enforcement community for not being tough enough.

In March 2010, Mendez went on a robbery spree that ended with a wild car chase and a shootout with Houston police. The 29-year-old, who came back to this country illegally after being deported, plead guilty to charges of evading arrest, aggravated robbery and aggravated assault on a public servant. While he faced up to 99 years to life in prison, on Friday Mendez was sentenced to 37 years behind bars.

Vice President of the Houston Police Officers' Union Ray Hunt said, "He is a thug. He is a bad character. He should be put away in prison for the rest of his life."

The Houston Police Officers' Union blasted State District Judge Cara Wood for being too lenient. What's more, because his sentences will run concurrently, Mendez is eligible for parole in nine and a half years.

"It's an outrage and an insult to police and the district attorneys who try to keep this community safe," Hunt said.

A spokesperson from Wood's office says she was "not at liberty to discuss the case for ethical reasons."

Defense attorney Bill Pattillo, who represented Mendez, says his client had no violent history and believes the punishment fits the crime.

"He had a job, he lost his job," said Pattillo. "He was also trying to care of his nine-year-old daughter and some other things and I think it was the perfect storm in the sense that he took some drugs and the stress added up."

Mendez's attorney says his client will likely face an additional federal charge for being in the country illegally, which will only add to his time spent behind bars.

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