A pivotal court hearing scheduled Monday for a woman and her boyfriend, who are accused in the death of her 22-year-old developmentally disabled twin brother, was taken off calendar due to “significant developments in the case,” a judge said.
Ines Patrisia Mendez, 30, and her boyfriend, Shanen Ryan Riley, 31, pleaded not guilty to a murder charge three years ago in the killing of Ines Mendez’s brother, Antonio, in 2012. Ines Mendez also pleaded not guilty to an additional charge of cruelty to a dependent adult.
They were set to appear for a preliminary hearing Monday, in which prosecutors typically present evidence that a judge weighs to decide whether a trial is warranted.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Harold Hopp cited unspecified significant developments in the case when granting a continuance. Both defendants are now scheduled to appear at the Larson Justice Center in Indio for a felony settlement conference on Nov. 10.
Ines Mendez remains in custody in lieu of $10 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, while Riley is being housed at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta in lieu of $1 million bail.
According to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant, Antonio Mendez suffered severe injuries in the lead-up to his death, including broken bones, hemorrhaging and contusions to his internal organs. He had been living with the defendants for about a year at an apartment in Desert Hot Springs.
Inez Mendez told police following her brother’s death that he had the mental capacity of a 3-year-old and could not speak.
Riley called police on Aug. 7, 2012, stating that his girlfriend’s brother was not breathing, the declaration states. The young man was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where he died about an hour later.
The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma. According to the declaration, he weighed 109 pounds and had “visible bruises on his stomach, lacerations to his head, back and knees.”
An autopsy revealed the victim had “fractured ribs, a severed pancreas and contusions to the back of the lower lobe of the left lung,” as well as hemorrhaging “over his left eye, a laceration to the back of his scalp and (a) subdural hemorrhage to the left side of his head.”
Family members told investigators that Ines Mendez took in her brother in July 2011 without notifying anyone else in the family. They alleged he was “in good health and weighed over 200 pounds before Ines took him,” then kept his whereabouts hidden from them and failed to notify them of his death, according to the declaration, which alleges that she received her brother’s $850-per-month Social Security check.
A search of the defendants’ Desert Hot Springs apartment revealed unsanitary conditions, according to court documents, which allege the victim’s bedroom contained a twin bed mattress that was “heavily soiled with apparent urine and feces stains,” along with carpeting that was similarly soiled.
Antonio Mendez was also hospitalized two months prior to his death for a broken jaw, nose and chipped teeth, the declaration states. His sister allegedly told police that he had slipped in the shower and fell often due to clumsiness.
His jaw was wired shut due to the injury. Ines Mendez told police that she could only feed him protein drinks and vitamins as a result, accounting for his weight loss.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said in 2017 that a reevaluation of the evidence and follow-up interviews led to the defendants being charged with murder.