courts -- Forest Grove man gets life in prison for his role in stabbing of a Hillsboro woman
Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of Jose Guadalupe Cazares Mendez, 32, of Hillsboro, the second of three men to be tried in the 2005 stabbing death of a Hillsboro woman.
Cazares Mendez' trial comes two weeks after Jorge Reyes Sanchez, 23, of Forest Grove, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murder after being found guilty of aggravated murder, felony murder, murder, robbery and burglary.
The same charges have been levied against Cazares Mendez. During the Reyes Sanchez trial, prosecutors said that Cazares Mendez and Reyes Sanchez broke into the house of Jessie Mary Valero, to steal methamphetamine and jewelry and during the course of the robbery Valero was stabbed 29 times with a sharpened screwdriver.
Jurors were persuaded of Reyes Sanchez' guilt, but stopped short of sentencing him to death. Ray Bassel, Cazares Mendez' court-appointed attorney said that this trial wouldn't be a repeat of the last.
'It's going to be an interesting case," Bassel said, "it's not the strongest state case that we've seen.'
Rob Bletko, Washington County chief deputy district attorney didn't return phone calls for comment on the case.
Bassel said that Bletko's case against Reyes Sanchez and Cazares Mendez relied heavily on testimony from co-defendant Jose Luis Lugardo Madero, 26, of Hillsboro who is charged with felony murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary in connection with the Valero murder.
Lugardo Madero set himself apart from his fellow defendants in the Reyes Sanchez proceedings saying that the other two were more hardened criminals and that they threatened him.
Bassel said that Lugardo Madero's testimony wasn't enough to sway jurors on its own and that he would cross-examine Madero more actively.
'Our point of view is that it's just not going to be believable and credible,' Bassel said.
Bassel also predicted that a lack of physical evidence linking his client to the murder would aid in the defense. 'A lot of it is about the jewelry there was a lot more evidence in the Reyes Sanchez trial,' Bassel said.