Mesa man pleads innocent to threatening girlfriend

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 13, 2013 

A Mesa man pleaded innocent to charges he threatened to kill his live-in girlfriend while hiding a rifle under a blanket with his finger on the trigger.

Jose Manuel Valencia-Mendoza, 31, is set for trial Oct. 30 for second-degree assault, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm.

The assault charge includes allegations that it was against a household member and that he was armed with a firearm.

Valencia-Mendoza's criminal history includes a conviction for second-degree malicious mischief.

A Franklin County sheriff's deputy was at a Road 170 home in Mesa at 2:20 a.m. Aug. 24, trying to follow up on a previous call, when a woman drove up in an SUV and said her boyfriend had threatened to kill her with a gun, court documents said.

While taking the woman's statement, the deputy got word from a dispatcher that Valencia-Mendoza had called the neighbor in the earlier dispatch call and was threatening harm, documents said. The deputy called for additional units since he learned Valencia-Mendoza had three outstanding Franklin County warrants.

The victim said she and Valencia-Mendoza lived together in the apartment with her two children. She reported that they had been arguing because he thought she was "fooling around" with his friends. They were in their bedroom when Valencia-Mendoza pointed something at her from underneath a blanket and said, "If your kids weren't here, I would take care of you this way," court documents said. He lifted the blanket to show a rifle with his finger on the trigger.

The woman said her children were in the room with them and that one of the kids started to cry. She said that she felt threatened for her life, as well as for her children, so when Valencia-Mendoza was on the phone she grabbed the kids and left the apartment. The victim also told the deputy that at one point in the night when she was in the upstairs bedroom, she heard a loud bang that sounded like a gunshot from outside the apartment. Valencia-Mendoza then came into the room and told her that's how he would hurt her, court documents said.

Authorities surrounded the apartment, and Valencia-Mendoza surrendered. In a search of the apartment, deputies found a Norinco SKS rifle in the tub, .762 ammunition in the downstairs closet and a stolen Jennings .22-caliber handgun in the living room, documents said. Valencia-Mendoza was arrested on suspicion of assault, in addition to the warrants. He was told to stay away from his girlfriend.

Valencia-Mendoza's bail is set at $75,000. He also has a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.

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