Charges Against Cpl. Singh's Killer On Hold, Defense Claims He's Incompetent
By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Newman, CA – A California judge ordered a mental health evaluation of the alleged cop killer who took the life of Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh on Dec. 26, 2018.
Instead, his court-appointed attorney, Stephen Foley, told the judge that he had doubts about the 32-year-old Mendoza’s mental competency based on his conversation with his client.
The judge ordered an evaluation to determine whether Mendoza can understand the court proceedings and assist in his own defense. The case cannot continue until the defendant is declared mentally competent.
Córdova gave Mendoza’s attorney five weeks to submit a doctor’s report to the court, during which time he will remain held without bail in the Stanislaus County jail, the Modesto Bee reported.
The fatal altercation began at 12:57 a.m. on the day after Christmas, when Cpl. Singh checked out on a traffic stop at Eucalyptus Avenue and Merced Street.
Just moments later, he radioed there had been “shots fired” at the scene, and officers from multiple agencies immediately responded to his location.
They found Cpl. Singh, 33, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
He was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The then unidentified suspect fled the scene prior to the other officers’ arrival, leading to a massive multi-agency manhunt.
Investigators had been watching the residence for at least 24 hours prior, after they tracked a vehicle to that location.
In a separate press conference, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood announced that police also arrested another four individuals, including a woman said to be Mendoza’s girlfriend and two of his brothers.
Adrian Virgen, Mendoza’s brother, and co-worker Erik Razo Quiroz were arrested as accomplices, according to police. Conrado Virgen Mendoza, another brother to Mendoza, and Mendoza’s girlfriend Ana Leyde Cervantes were arrested Friday for helping Mendoza evade police, ABC reported.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said three other people were also arrested in South Valley for aiding and abetting Mendoza.
"When you use a firearm against a police officer, you can run, but you can’t hide," Sheriff Youngblood said.
"No stone will be unturned for anyone we have information on that helped this suspect try and elude capture,” he added. “We will go after them.”
Sheriff Christianson had previously announced that Cpl. Singh’s killer is an illegal alien.
“That was his goal – to get across the border,” the sheriff reiterated.
Mendoza has self-promoted his status as a member of the Sureno street gang, and has two prior drunk driving convictions in Madera County, Sheriff Christianson said.
“This criminal, Mr. Arriaga, crossed our border illegally into Arizona some time ago,” he explained. “He is a criminal…past behavior is typically an indicator of future behavior.”
Police have also arrested the accused cop-killer’s brother, 25-year-old Adrian Virgen, and Mendoza’s coworker, 27-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz, for their role in helping Mendoza in his attempt to escape from the United States.
“They intentionally lied to us,” Sheriff Christianson said during the conference. “They tried to divert us… they misled us, they provided information that was false, all in an attempt to protect [Mendoza].”
Quiroz and Virgen are both illegal aliens as well, he confirmed.
On Jan. 2, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday morning filed a criminal complaint against the alleged cop killer.
Mendoza is facing a charge of murder with a special circumstances enhancement that makes the case eligible for the death penalty, should they choose to seek it, the Modesto Bee reported.
Deputy District Attorney Jeff Mangar told the judge the district attorney’s office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty.
Demonstrators lined the sidewalk in front of the courthouse in support of law enforcement on Wednesday morning as the fallen officer’s family arrived for Mendoza’s arraignment.
Cpl. Singh, a native of Fiji, had served the Newman Police Department for over seven years.
He was also a K9 handler, and was partnered up with Newman Police Department’s K9 Sam at the time of his murder, according to The Sacramento Bee.
He previously served with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department and the Turlock Police Department, The Modesto Bee reported.