Criminal Justice

Man gets 35 years for murder of ex, plus another 15 for similar attack on his lawyer, in open court


Justice was delayed, but not denied, after a California man stabbed his defense attorney in the face in open court with a makeshift weapon on the final day of his murder trial last year.

A mistrial resulted, due to the attack on attorney John Shepard. However, Rafael Mendoza, 30, pleaded no contest in September to the murder of Juliana Bravo, 24, the mother of his children, in 2010, and additional mayhem and weapon charges concerning the stabbing of Shepard, reports the L.A. Now page of the Los Angeles Times.

On Wednesday, Mendoza was sentenced to 35 years to life for the murder and 15 years to life for the attack on Shepard in a Tulare County courtroom in November 2012. The attorney reportedly was not seriously injured, but required stitches after Mendoza used a shank to stab him near his eye. Bravo died after Mendoza stabbed her in the face and eye and cut her throat with a butcher knife, the prosecution said. He was on parole at the time in a prior domestic violence case concerning Bravo.

A press release (PDF) from the district attorney’s office provides further details.

The Times article doesn’t include any comment from Mendoza or his defense lawyer.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Officials Say Murder Defendant Slashed His Lawyer’s Face; Court Attack Was 2nd in County in 1 Week”

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