Mendoza Testifies He Killed Suspected Drug Snitch

Mendoza Testifies He Killed Suspected Drug Snitch

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BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (AP) -- Jared Mendoza has testified he killed a suspected "snitch" in part to erase a $2,800 drug debt.

Mendoza, 20, and Jerime Anderson, 25, were charged with first-degree felony murder in the shooting death of 19-year-old Pocatello, Idaho, resident Timothy Lords.

Mendoza, who confessed to shooting Lords in late September 2002 and dumping his body near the Portage exit off Interstate 15, testified Tuesday at Anderson's trial got under way.

Sobbing at times, Mendoza told the jury he killed Lords at Anderson's request.

Mendoza, who is being held in the Weber County Jail pending sentencing for first-degree felony murder, said a $2,800 drug debt and the arrest of a drug-dealing friend led to Lords' death.

Killing Lords not only would get rid of a snitch but also would erase his debt, Mendoza said.

"It was a planned homicide," he said. "I wanted to be a part of their group, and I thought they'd forget about the money I owed them. ... So I told (Anderson) I'd do it for him."

The three men got together to go to Ogden to buy methamphetamine, Mendoza said.

The two had planned to kill Lords en route to Ogden, but Mendoza said he "chickened out" and pretended to sleep.

On the way back to Pocatello, Anderson drove to a dead-end road near the Portage exit.

The three had just settled into the borrowed vehicle after going to the bathroom when Mendoza, sitting in the back seat, fired through the passenger seat, hitting Lords in the back.

"It took everything I had to fire that first shot," Mendoza said.

Mendoza said he fired twice more after seeing Lords reach for his weapon. Lords was hit once in the head and twice in the torso.

Mendoza said he then dumped Lords' body and tried to find Anderson, who fled the vehicle after the first shot.

Mendoza picked up Anderson near the I-15 interchange, and the two drove back to Pocatello, he said.

A few days later, when detectives started snooping around, Mendoza doused the vehicle with gasoline and torched it in Bannock County, Idaho, he said.

He said Anderson had provided the gun.

Defense attorney Martin Gravis told the jury that Mendoza has changed his story so often that he cannot be believed.

Plus, he said, Mendoza's prison sentence will be less harsh now that he has testified against Anderson.

"It's our point of view that Mr. Mendoza has something to gain by changing his story," Gravis said.

Mendoza said he did not expect to receive a lighter sentence.

"I feel so horrible for what I've done ... (I'm testifying) to get it off my shoulders," he said. "The reason we killed Timothy was because he was a snitch. Now I'm pretty much the same thing."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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