Star Exclusive:

Man acquitted in Tucson cop's shooting to spend nearly 40 years in prison

2014-02-13T16:30:00Z 2014-07-13T15:49:45Z Man acquitted in Tucson cop's shooting to spend nearly 40 years in prisonBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Although acquitted of shooting a police officer, Richard Mendoza likely will spend much of the remainder his life behind bars.

Mendoza, 30, was convicted in January on two counts of burglary and six counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor.

He was sentenced on Thursday to 12 years for the weapons charges and 17¾ years for the burglary charges.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Jane Eikleberry sentenced Mendoza to 29¾ years in prison. On top of that, Mendoza already was sentenced to 11 years in prison for an unrelated burglary case, which will be served before his new conviction. All told, Mendoza will spend nearly 40 years in prison.

A jury found Mendoza not guilty on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting of Tucson police Officer Robert Carpenter.

Carpenter was one of several officers on a burglary call at a home near East Broadway and North Alvernon Way in November 2012. After checking the home, Carpenter was shot in the head by an unknown gunman as he was leaving the house.

He survived but had to undergo surgeries and therapy, missing nearly a year of work.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Kellie Johnson argued that Mendoza still caused Carpenter’s injuries, even if he didn’t fire the gun, because he committed the burglaries that caused the police to respond to the home.

Defense attorney Bobbi Berry asked that the sentences be concurrent to reduce Mendoza’s time in prison. She also said Mendoza had been upfront with prosecutors from the start, saying he admitted the burglaries and gun possession.

“We conceded everything but for what he didn’t do,” Berry said.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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