In the ‘Labyrinths of Passion,’ a kiss led to murder

Luis Mendoza. Credit: PPD
Luis Mendoza. Credit: PPD

Prosecutors say that Israel Baca-Hernandez, 31, was fatally stabbed around 3 a.m. on May 4 at a Kensington restaurant known as Laberintos de Pasion for kissing a woman who was with a rival group of men.

“He took some affront over the deceased kissing a girl that was in his party,” prosecutor Carlos Vega said of suspect Luis Mendoza, 35, who allegedly wielded a knife during the fight and fatally stabbed Baca-Hernandez

But at a preliminary hearing Tuesday, defense attorneys questioned the credibility of the man who appeared as a witness because he is an undocumented immigrant.

“We can’t explore whether he’s just a flat-out liar and a fraud?” asked defense attorney Guy Sciolla, who represents Darlin Mendoza, 31, and Ramon Turcios, 25, also charged with murder for participating in the fight.

Laberintos de Pasion on G Street and Allegheny Avenue. Credit: Google Maps
Laberintos de Pasion on G Street and Allegheny Avenue. Credit: Google Maps

The witness said he has a Mexican driver’s license and a taxpayer ID number to pay income tax, but is not a documented immigrant.

“When the police came and asked who did this crime, nobody would talk. Everybody saw it but nobody talked. And I spoke up,” the witness testified in Spanish, as translated by a court interpreter.

The Mendozas and Turcios were held for court on murder charges, but defense attorneys pledged to bring the issue up at trial.

“You’re representing yourself as a certain kind of person,” said attorney Laurence Narcisi, who represents Luis Mendoza and claims that Baca-Hernandez provoked the fight. “You lie to the government, what happens to you? … The question is, how far does that go?”

According to this witness, who Metro will not identify, Mendoza pulled out a knife inside the restaurant, located on G Street and Allegheny Avenue, after witnessing the offending kiss and went toward Baca-Hernandez, who left the restaurant. Mendoza reportedly said “I’m gonna kill him!” as Darlin Mendoza and Turcios restrained him.

Moments later, the three men, along with a fourth, unidentified suspect, stormed out of the restaurant to where Baca-Hernandez was with two friends.

A brawl ensued and during the struggle, Mendoza allegedly stabbed Baca-Hernandez three times.

Officers responded after receiving a call of a “person screaming” at 3:06 a.m. Baca-Hernandez was pronounced dead at 3:32 a.m.

The three defendants return to court on July 15 for formal arraignment.

Correction: This story in print incorrectly ran attorney Laurence Narcisi’s name as “Anthony” Narcisi due to an editing mistake. Metro apologizes for the error.


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