Man found guilty of killing classmate back in 2002

February 7, 2013 3:44:54 PM PST
It took years to bring justice, but a man has been found guilty of killing his classmate in 2002 in Fort Bend County.

Both sides of the courtroom erupted in tears as the guilty verdict was read, with family members of both the victim, Chris Daigle, and defendant, Richard Mendoza, Jr., breaking down.

The jury deliberated for nearly five hours before finally rendering the guilty verdict.

Mendoza was arrested last year for the 2002 murder of then 17-year-old Daigle. He went missing in November of that year and for a decade authorities didn't know what happened to him.

Last July, an eyewitness came forward, telling investigators that Mendoza shot Daigle in the back of the head with a shot gun in a rural area of Fort Bend County near Arcola. The eyewitness statement was then corroborated by another man who also says he was out there that day. The two told detectives that Mendoza later ordered them to go back to that area and hide Daigle's body.

Only portions of his remains were found. DNA testing showed conclusively that they belonged to Daigle. His family never gave up that one day justice would be done and that someone would be held accountable for this grizzly crime.

At one point after Mendoza's arrest, the district attorney's office neglected to filed charges within the legally required 90 days and Mendoza was allowed to be released on bond pending trial.

The motive for the murder was apparently Mendoza's jealousy. Investigators say he believed his girlfriend at the time was cheating on him with Daigle. She says that never happened.

The punishment phase of the trial is set to begin Friday morning.