Santana Mendoza was escorted into the Riverton Circuit Courtroom by deputies in September’s preliminary hearing. Joshua Scheer photo.
(Lander, Wyo.) – The case file of Santana Mendoza, one of the juvenile Rails to Trails homicide suspects, has been sealed by Ninth District Court Judge Norman E. Young.
The 16-year-old Riverton boy is charged with Second Degree Murder in the death of David Moss Jr., 25, and the attempted second degree murder of Aleeah Crispin. It is alleged that on Sept. 3, 2013, Mendoza and co-defendant, John Potter, also 16 and from Riverton, beat Moss to death using their feet and a baseball bat. A pair of brass knuckles was also reportedly with the teens, but Mendoza told investigators that he didn’t use them.
Mendoza and Potter have both been charged as adults.
Generally, the sealing of a case involving a juvenile corresponds with an attempt by the defense to move the case to juvenile court. Citing the fact that the file is sealed, neither Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett nor Mendoza’s Public Defender Sky Phifer would confirm that a motion to transfer to juvenile court had been filed.
Bennett said he could not comment on the case until the file is unsealed.
As of Tuesday morning, Potter’s file remained unsealed.
Both suspects have pleaded not guilty. Their trial together was set for Jan. 14, 2014.
More background on the case can be found here.