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
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.