July 4, 1996 in City
Jury Convicts Shooter Of Attempted Murders
Sabrina Lewin swears she doesn’t care about the stranger who nearly killed her in a shooting last summer. He’s a “loser,” she said.
In the same breath, she acknowledges how Jose Mendoza changed everything.
“I couldn’t walk for a month,” she said. “I was wheelchair-bound. He ruined my life.”
On Wednesday, Lewin was in Spokane County Superior Court watching a jury deliver five guilty verdicts against Mendoza, who faces more than 100 years in prison for attempted murder.
Mendoza fired into a car with five teenagers last Aug. 20.
The car was parked near the Albertsons on Argonne Road. Lewin, an 18-year-old Shadle Park High School graduate, was one of three teens wounded in the gunfire.
Lewin was shot in the shoulder, hip and knee. She was sitting behind driver Torrey Lowery, who had an argument over a traffic maneuver with one of Mendoza’s friends, Jeremy Johnson.
Johnson waved a 9mm handgun at the teens and drove away “to find some homeboys to help him out,” according to prosecutors.
He returned an hour later at 11 p.m. with Mendoza and another teenager, Robert DeLao.
Johnson, a West Valley High School dropout, fired once into the car, missing the youths, before his gun jammed. He pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to attempted murder and first-degree assault and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
DeLao, who sat in the back seat and did not shoot, was not charged. Both he and Johnson were called as witnesses against Mendoza.
Mendoza’s rampage was more intense. He fired 10 bullets into the car.
During his trial, Mendoza, 21, claimed he acted in self-defense. But after deliberating for five hours, the jury found him guilty as charged of five counts of attempted murder and first-degree assault.
“There were five kids in a small car and by the grace of God they all lived,” said Deputy Prosecutor David Hearrean. “Like one of the witnesses said, it’s like an angel came over them.”
Lowery was shot in the chest; passenger Heidi Hughes in the leg, wrist and finger.
Mendoza stood quietly in the courtroom as jurors read the verdicts.
Lewin hugged her mother.
After the shooting, Lewin spent two weeks in the hospital and most of last year in rehabilitation. She still has a scar across one knee. She can’t lift an arm or climb stairs without pain. She had to give up in-line skating.
Still, she said attending the trial helped her grieve. All she wants now is to be rid of Mendoza.
Sentencing is set for Aug. 29. Until then, Judge Neal Q. Rielly ordered the defendant held without bail.