Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

One last, somewhat strange note on the Mendiola case: at some point, the prosecutors apparently threatened to indict UW stars Giuliana and Giocanda.

As described here, Giuli and Gio's brother Giovanni received his sentence for second degree murder last week. He claims innocence, but he says that he took the plea deal to protect his family members. Mostly, he did it so that his brothers would get lower sentences for their involvement.

According to this report from a Seattle TV news station, he also took the deal to protect his sisters from prosecution. According to Mendiola's public defender, the plea agreement "removed prosecution threats to indict the sisters."

It's unclear what the threatened charges were. Police and prosecutors have said from the beginning that the sisters did not have any involvement in the murder or the drug dealing.

But at the time of the murder, Giovanni apparently lived with the sisters in Seattle. The murder victim's car was found somewhere in or near Seattle. And the last call from the murder victim's phone was to a phone that was listed in one of the sister's names (and that was being used by Giovanni).

It would seem that if any charges were threatened against the sisters, they probably were something like obstruction, or something to do with the sisters' failure to disclose what they knew.

A general reminder: just because prosecutors threaten charges doesn't mean there's anything to them. Prosecutors do sometimes threaten spurious charges (i.e., charges for which they do not have probable cause) in order to extract a plea deal. It's unethical, but unfortunately it happens.

That's precisely what the Mendiolas say happened in this case. We'll never know. And since the evidence was never presented in court, we'll never even be able to make any sort of educated guess...

(... unless there is some sort of successful appeal...)

UPDATE: Just heard from a local reporter who spoke to someone in the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.

The officer reaffirmed that the sisters had no involvement in the drug running or the hired enforcement. The officer also said that no accessory charges were ever considered against Giuli or Gio. He said, however, that the murder victim's car was parked in the sisters' garage for about a month.

I'm not really sure what this means. It might mean that no accessory charges were considered, but other charges were. Or it might mean that the story above was totally wrong. Or it might mean that the sheriff's department didn't think any charges were appropriate, but the DA nonetheless threatened them in order to get a deal.

I'll keep looking around a little, but I figure this is the most we'll ever hear of it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: the PD did say at the sentencing hearing that charges were threatened against the sister. But it sounds like maybe the PD was just saying this as some form of grandstanding.

I'm gonna try to call the DA tomorrow and see what's up.