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The Carthage Press
  • Carthage man freed when witness deported, statements suppressed

  • The murder charge against a Carthage man was dismissed on Tuesday after the prosecutor's office decided it no longer had enough evidence to make its case.
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  • The murder charge against a Carthage man was dismissed on Tuesday after the prosecutor's office decided it no longer had enough evidence to make its case.
    Jasper County Prosecutor Dean Dankelson said Juan Mendoza, 45, Carthage, was released from jail on Tuesday after the second degree murder charge he was facing was dismissed.
    Dankelson said a witness in the case was recently deported and Judge Gayle Crain ruled to suppress two statements Mendoza made to investigators on May 9, 2012 because they violated his Miranda Rights against self-incrimination.
    "It was a combination of the two developments," Dankelson said. "After the judge granted the motion to dismiss, we tried to find another way to make the case, but there just wasn't one. If there is not enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict someone, we have an ethical duty to dismiss the charges."
    Mendoza had been charged in the April 2012 death of Mario Gonzalez, 43, in a camp on the Spring River just north of High Street and east of Francis Street on the north edge of Carthage.
    Gonzalez was found by his girlfriend on the morning of April 25, 2012.
    Carthage investigators called in the Tri-State Major Case Squad, which brought approximately 50 investigators to help work more than 140 leads.
    A probable cause affidavit, filed with the request for charges said the Boone County Medical Examiner's office found evidence that Gonzalez was struck three times in the neck with a machete.
    Court documents filed at the time said Mendoza was an acquaintance of Gonzalez. Mendoza was arrested on May 4, 2012.
    "This is the end of the case," Dankelson said. "Jeopardy has not attached so if more evidence surfaces sometime in the future, charges could be refiled against someone, but this is the end of this case."
    Mendoza was scheduled to go to trial next week.

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