Thursday, April 12, 2007
On a day when high-profile cases packed Judge Thomas S. Reese's courtroom, it barely merited attention that Juan Mendez, formerly accused of stabbing to death his wife and mother-in-law, was sitting quietly in a back row.
He came to get his shoes. They were among his belongings taken earlier this year when he was arrested in connection with the Lehigh Acres killings. After a grand jury declined to indict Mendez last month, effectively ending the case, Mendez said he wanted his stuff back.
"My cell phone they took off me, my house keys," Mendez said, listing for Reese the items authorities pulled from him.
"Shoes," his attorney, David Goldberg, chimed in.
"Two pairs of shoes they had took from me," Mendez agreed.
"Any firearms, any contraband?" Reese asked.
"No," Goldberg and Mendez both said, heads shaking.
The state didn't object, and so Mendez's Nokia cell phone, a bottle of hand sanitizer, a child's green blanket and other things were ordered returned to him. Mendez and his dead wife have a young son together.
So Mendez walked out of court. Reporters, there for a sentencing and motions hearing in other cases, trailed him to the elevator. But he declined to comment.