Death sentence vacated in case involving fired DNA analyst Paulette

Frederick Mendoza, a Vietnam War Marine veteran suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
By Perly Viasmensky
Las Vegas Tribune

Frederick Mendoza, a Vietnam War Marine veteran
suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),

On November 2008 Frederick Mendoza,  a Vietnam War Marine veteran suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), pleaded guilty in District Court of sexually assaulting and stabbing 68-year-old Rita Kremberg 18 times, slitting her throat at Destinations Senior Living facility where they both lived. He was sentenced to death.

Las Vegas detectives claimed they found Mendoza’s fingerprints on a liquor bottle inside Kremberg’s apartment and under her fingernails and on her genitals, according to county prosecutor Robert Daskas.
In post-conviction filings, Mendoza stated that there were serious errors throughout his trial and appellate proceedings, and that DNA evidence had been mishandled by an analyst, Kristina Paulette, who was fired about two years after Mendoza’s 2008 trial.
In 2011 the Las Vegas Review-Journal learned that the discovery that Las Vegas police crime lab technician lied to a supervisor about a simple mistake has prompted a review of her work in potentially dozens of criminal cases.
In August 2010, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department became aware that Kristina Paulette had contaminated one DNA sample with another and that she gave a verbal account of the error to a supervisor.
The failure to disclose this evidence affected Mendoza’s trial attorney, Mr. James Oronoz, to advise Mendoza to plead guilty. Mr. Oronoz would not have advised him to do so nor would Mendoza have pled guilty had the true facts concerning Kristina Paulette been discovered by the attorney or produced by the State.
In 2006, Kristina Paulette testified as a DNA expert in the case of Kirstin Lobato (State vs. Lobato). As the State’s witness Paulette testified on September 25, 2006 that the only work she was asked to perform was DNA testing of a pubic hair sample from a rape test kit.
During the trial it was discovered that Kristina Paulette had performed testing on cigarette butts prior to her testimony on behalf of the state.
In June 2018 Frederick Mendoza, through his attorney Jamie Resch, with the law firm Conviction Solutions, reached an agreement with state
prosecutors to be removed from Nevada’s death row. Under such an agreement Mendoza agreed to drop all appeals to his conviction in exchange for his death sentence being commuted to life in prison without possibility of parole. District Court Judge Michael Villani vacated the death sentence on
June 28, 2018.
Mr. Jamie Resch, an attorney extremely dedicated to the fate of his clients, is a former Chief Deputy Attorney General at the Nevada Office of the Attorney General in the Special Prosecutions Division.
Mr. Resch has handled all manner of complicated criminal prosecution and criminal appeal cases, including several death penalty cases. According to court filings in the Mendoza case, Mr. Resch wrote: “ The DNA evidence in this case was analyzed by Kristina Paulette. Paulette has a long and publicly documented history of dishonesty and inaccurate work dating back to 2006 — a time which predates the offense in the instance case. Available evidence now shows that
Paulette offered false testimony under oath during the trial of another matter in 2006, performed shoddy work and deleted files and reports in an attempt to cover up the same in 2011. At no time did the State inform the defense herein of any of these facts, in direct violation of its Constitutional requirements to provide such information to the defense.”
“This hard-fought and extremely rare agreement helps treat a combat veteran fairly and protects the State’s interest by ensuring Mr. Mendoza lives out his remaining days in prison,” said attorney Jamie Resch.

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