Richland man gets sentenced for arranging break-in at mom's apartment

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldOctober 26, 2012 

A Richland man with a history of juvenile crime was sentenced to one year and three months in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to six charges.

Samuel Toby Mendoza turned 18 on Aug. 7 and 12 days later arranged to have two co-defendants break into his mother's apartment while she was out of town to steal items to sell.

He pleaded guilty in Benton County Superior Court to residential burglary, first-degree trafficking stolen property, second-degree vehicle prowling, second-degree theft, possession of marijuana and minor in possession of consumption of alcohol.

"He's an adult now. It's time for him to figure out he can't keep doing this," said Deputy Prosecutor Megan Killgore. "He needs to figure out he can't live by his own rules when he's not in custody."

Killgore explained that Mendoza had done well while he was in juvenile detention. At the time of the residential burglary, however, he was out of custody on Selective Aggressive Probation and had multiple warrants out for his arrest.

Selective Aggressive Probation provides intensive supervision and services to youths identified as the highest risk to reoffend.

Defense attorney Gary Metro said his client was bright and easy to work with.

"He's a very young man. He's got his whole life in front of him," Metro said.

Killgore said Mendoza has had the opportunity to take advantage of programs to get help through the juvenile courts and he hasn't taken advantage of it.

He admitted that he provided a map to two codefendants, telling them how to get to his mother's apartment and what items to steal once they were inside.

He then sold the items for $700 at Smoke City for Less, court documents said.

The other charges stemmed from incidents on June 24 -- before he was 18 -- but were added to his adult case as part of a global resolution on all his cases.

Mendoza broke into several cars, stole a credit card and was found in possession of marijuana and alcohol, documents said.

Judge Craig Matheson told Mendoza that he couldn't give Mendoza a local jail sentence even if he wanted to because of the sentencing range on the crimes.

Matheson did follow the recommendation for the minimum time he could order -- one year and three months in prison.

"You'll be able to get out of prison in less than a year," Matheson said. "But you have to decide to grow up."

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556;

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