Special Reports

Survivor, victims' families still want death sentence

Aldo Montes-Lamas, the only one of six men to survive a barrage of gunfire inside a Pasco auto body shop in 1987, isn't satisfied with the sentence handed down Friday against his assailant.

Neither are Alicia Magallon or Josephine Cortez, who had loved ones cut down by the Mini-14 rifle Pedro Mendez-Reyna carried into Medina's auto body shop Oct. 13, 1987.

"He killed my friends, and he wants to live?" Montes-Lamas said shaking his head.

Mendez-Reyna pleaded guilty Friday to five counts of first-degree aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.

Franklin County Prosecutor Dennis DeFelice had asked for the death penalty, but agreed to the life prison term in exchange for the guilty pleas.

"I don't know why they withdrew (the death penalty)," said Cortez, wife of murder victim Francisco Cortez. "I don't understand. (Mendez-Reyna) took a part of me. He deserves to die."

Cortez's comments were cut short as she began to sob.

"He didn't kill one person, he killed five people," said Magallon, sister-in-law of murder victim Rafael Magallon.

"To the family of Mr. Mendez, I feel bad that they are going through this," Magallon added. "But they also should put themselves in the position of each of the five mothers."

Montes-Lamas sat in the back of the courtroom with his jaws clenched and his arms folded as Mendez-Reyna talked in court Friday about the murders.

"I think he deserves to pay with his life like my best friends did," he added.

DeFelice said the fact Mendez-Reyna was willing to plead guilty and had shown remorse was a key in why he decided to withdraw his request for the death penalty.

Keeping Mendez-Reyna as a possible witness against Ruiz, if he is ever found, was another reason, DeFelice said.

Montes-Lamas and Mendez-Reyna are the only witnesses to the killing.

"We don't know what will happen to Mr. Montes in the next several years," DeFelice said. "With Pedro Mendez-Reyna still alive, the state has a witness against Vicente Ruiz."