A 23-year-old man who shot another man in the stomach during a dispute involving a discarded handgun was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in state prison.
Misael Miguel Mendoza pleaded guilty last month to assault with a firearm, as well as sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations, for the March 2016 attack in the 32400 block of Akes Pass in south Temecula.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jerome Brock imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense under the plea agreement.
According to sheriff’s investigators, Mendoza and the victim, identified in court documents only as “J.P.,” were on generally good terms in the 15 months prior to the shooting, when J.P.’s 16-year-old half brother and Mendoza were hanging out together in the neighborhood.
An arrest warrant affidavit filed last year stated that problems surfaced in February 2016, after Mendoza came to the victim’s family home and asked J.P.’s half brother to hide a stolen pistol, which the teenager agreed to do.
When the youth’s mother discovered what had happened, she tossed the firearm into a wash near the property, according to court papers.
Mendoza was incensed by the act and began “harassing and threatening” the teen in the ensuing weeks, demanding a return of the gun, the affidavit said.
J.P. decided to intervene and confronted Mendoza at his Akes Pass residence, telling him to stop bothering the boy, culminating in a physical altercation between the defendant and victim, who walked away from the property moments later, according to investigators.
On March 10, 2016, Mendoza’s stepfather turned up at the victim’s home, asking him to drop by the defendant’s residence to make peace, court papers stated. J.P. agreed and went back to the property, where he engaged Mendoza in conversation. However, the dialogue fell apart when Mendoza began accusing the victim of willfully keeping his gun from him, investigators said.
As J.P. stood outside Mendoza’s garage, the defendant went into his house and returned seconds later with a .25-caliber handgun, leveling it at the victim, who initially believed it was a toy, according to the affidavit. Mendoza first aimed at J.P.’s head, then pointed the pistol at his upper abdomen, firing one time, according to court papers.
The victim managed to walk away from the property and call for help. J.P. later told detectives that Mendoza was yelling that he was trespassing.
J.P. underwent surgery at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar and eventually made a full recovery.
Mendoza was arrested without incident. He has no prior documented felony convictions.
–City News Service
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