Christina Marie Mendoza
20 Years Old

June 2, 1976 to July 9, 1996

Christi was a beautiful young woman who was elegant and classy, the kind of beauty that when entering a room, everyone turned their heads in awe. She graduated from modeling school in junior high, and went on to graduate from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. She was a polite and caring girl, and would do anything for anyone. She was very bright and was putting herself through college to become an interior designer, because she had such flair for style and decorating. She was a proud and confident girl, and knew what she wanted out of life. She was a devoted daughter and had many, many friends throughout her young life. Her only sister idolized her, and they frequently went on outings together. Christi is missed so very much, and thought about every single day. Rest in peace Angel.

Christi was home alone about 11:00 pm cleaning her house in South Minneapolis, when four young women went to her house to rob her. She knew two of them from high school, and the juvenile stayed in the upstairs duplex with her boyfriend, so Christi recognized three of them. They hit her, strangled her with a leather belt and subdued her in a chair for hours, relentlessly screaming at her to give them money, before they grabbed kitchen knives from her counter and stabbed her in the stomach, neck, and chest. They grotesquely sliced her face from her ear to her mouth.

They stole what they could and fled, leaving Christi to lay on the floor, bleeding to death, until three days later when her boyfriend returned from out of town and found her body. Our family learned of the tragedy from a television news channel. The juvenile involved, Valerie Martinez, panicked the night the story aired, and she eventually snitched on everyone else (which was good, because otherwise it would have gone unsolved). She pled guilty to second degree murder under the Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile (EJJ) system, served 18 months in a treatment center, went to a group home, and then to her own home.

After a year of being in jail on a million dollars bond each, Leah McGinley and Denetta Caldron plea-bargained and will be in prison until the years 2002 and 2005. They supposedly were only part of the robbery, but still they did nothing to help Christi. They also testified at the main killer's trial, Maia Diederich-Lee, who was tried on two counts of intentional murder in the first degree. All of them wore gloves, so no fingerprints were found at the scene. Then, the police property room lost the only physical evidence that they had against her, and subsequently a jury acquitted her due to the lack of physical evidence. This outcome was so shocking that the court clerk could not finish reading the verdict out loud, and so the Judge had to read it before a packed courtroom. We believe the juvenile is the one who wielded the second knife.

Christi's family and friends were completely devastated by losing her, and then having to watch the demon who mutilated and killed her walk away free to live out her life. We can't believe the injustice and mistakes that were made in the whole legal process in this case, and her killer(s) walk free in Minneapolis.

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