Man accused of domestic violence testifes in jury trial
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent April 11, 2013 11:24PM
Lake Superior Court jurors heard a man charged with attempted murder, attempted rape and criminal confinement describe his version of the events in March 2011 that left his girlfriend with lumps, bruises and swelling.
Christopher Ryan Mendoza, 22, of the Miller section of Gary, denied punching, choking or trying to rape the woman, his on-again, off-again girlfriend of about three years. Instead, Mendoza said, after an evening of underage drinking with her and two acquaintances on March 9, 2011, at a Portage bar, he became angry after he checked her cell phone and discovered a text message indicating she had cheated on him.
After they left the home of the acquaintance in Portage, Mendoza testified the woman began kicking him as she sat barefoot with her legs pulled up to her chest while he drove to his mother’s home in the 7900 block of Ash Avenue. Mendoza said he swung his arm blindly at least three times to fend off the kicks, but stopped once his knuckle connected with her teeth. He also said the woman slid off the seat and hit her face and shoulder on the dashboard when he stopped suddenly.
The woman told then-Gary police Detective Robin Bolde that Mendoza grabbed her by the hair, punched her repeatedly, choked her into unconsciousness and threatened to kill her early on March 10, 2011. She testified earlier this week that Mendoza would become violent with her when he was angry.
Defense attorney Larry Rogers elicited testimony from the woman that she hadn’t disclosed to police that she and Mendoza had been at Moods Lounge in Portage, where they drank several shots and beers and became intoxicated.
At one point while Mendoza was testifying, he started crying and said he attempted suicide by taking 25 ibuprofen after his mother discovered the woman was in her basement. “I was mad at myself,” he said.
During cross-examination by deputy prosecutor Catherine Breitweiser-Hurst, Mendoza acknowledged that U.S. marshals arrested him on the charges on March 11, 2011. He had testified he spent about one week at Porter-Starke in Valparaiso because of his suicidal thoughts. Mendoza also denied he was jealous or suspicious of his former girlfriend. “I hated myself because I put my hands on her,” Mendoza said.
The woman’s mother testified that she received an early-morning text from her daughter that she was being held at Mendoza’s mother’s home and didn’t know the address. The mother said when she arrived at the home, her daughter’s face was horribly swollen, her hair was a mess and she looked like an alien. The mother said her daughter’s hair was matted and came out in clumps. The hair was introduced as evidence in the case.
Mendoza’s mother and a co-worker and neighbor of Mendoza’s mother took him to the mental health facility, leaving the woman in the house alone when her mother and police arrived.