Man guilty of trying to hire hitman to kill wife

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) -- Daniel Mendoza was willing to pay the price to have his estranged wife killed.

Facing life in prison Tuesday, Mendoza was found guilty in a murder-for-hire scheme.

"Mr. Mendoza was jealous of his wife's new boyfriend, he was jealous of her life," said Ramon Korionoff with the Montgomery County State's Attorney Office.

Mendoza asked an acquaintance, who happened to be a police informant, about hiring someone to kill her. Authorities then assigned an undercover officer to pose as a hitman.

Mendoza would soon take that undercover officer to the Twin Brook Metro Station in Rockville, pointing out his estranged wife on her way to work.

"He made sure they got there right on time when she would be boarding the metro, they actually saw her, a picture was taken of her and he indicated to these people who he thought were hitmen, 'that's the woman, that's the woman I want killed,'" said Marybeth Ayres, Chief of the Gang Unit at the State's Attorney and the lead prosecutor in the state's case against Mendoza.

In audio surveillance taken by the undercover officer, Mendoza affirms that he wants his wife to be killed. When asked how he wanted it to happen, he answered, "However you can do it. But if you could, well, take her away and have her disappear so there's no body or anything, that would be better, too," he told the informant and officer while unknowingly being recorded.

Mendoza's defense was that he never intended to actually follow through with the hitmen.

But prosecutors tell a different story. "He was very deliberate and calculated. Very cold thinking," Ayers.

Authorities said Mendoza's abuse was nothing new and he often told his wife, who is undocumented, that he would have her deported if she ever went to police.

"She had the additional layer of being threatened with deportation, threatened with - her husband threatened her that he'd go to the authorities. This is not an isolated incident, this is years and years of an abusive relationship," said Debbie Feinstein with the Family Violence Division in the State's Attorney Office.

Ultimately, is was the urging of a friend that convinced Mendoza's wife to seek help. She went to the police and obtained an order of protection against Mendoza.

Prosecutors say that kept him away.

"That is why he didn't do this himself because he was being very cautious, very calculated, knowing he had an order of protection on him and it would set off alarms if anyone saw him around," explained Ayers.

She added that immigration status and language barriers will not prevent authorities from seeking justice and also urged anyone experiencing abuse to seek help immediately.

"We are not interested in your immigration status we only want to investigate crimes and make sure that they are prosecuted properly," said Ayers.

Mendoza is scheduled to be sentenced on May 7 and is facing life in prison.


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