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SAPD: Suspect in fatal crash had 2 prior drunken driving arrests

Juan Mendoza, 27, charged with murder

Juan Mendoza being put in the back of a San Antonio police patrol car.
Juan Mendoza being put in the back of a San Antonio police patrol car.

Juan Mendoza, 27, has been charged with murder stemming from a deadly crash in which San Antonio police believe he was driving drunk.

Mendoza was arrested around 11 p.m. Wednesday at his home in the 300 block of Sims Avenue.

The charge, which is somewhat uncommon in a case involving a motor vehicle crash, is being applied because he had two prior convictions for driving while intoxicated, police said.

"This last one made it a third, which is a felony offense," said Officer Roger Zuniga, spokesman for SAPD. "In the commission of a felony offense, when you kill somebody -- (detectives) had enough to get a warrant for murder."

Records show one of Mendoza's prior arrests, in 2009, was for driving drunk with a child younger than 15 in his car.

This time around, police said, he was to blame for the death of Juan Luis Sandoval, 33.

A police report stated that Mendoza's Hummer collided with Sandoval's pickup before 3 a.m. on April 13, at the intersection of Old Highway 90 and SW 36th Street.

"The suspect in this case ran the red light at the intersection and was speeding, causing this crash," Zuniga said.

Mendoza's Hummer rolled over several times, causing serious injuries to his two passengers.

Zuniga said Mendoza was not taken into custody immediately following the crash because he also was injured and had to be hospitalized.

At the time of his arrest Wednesday, he was still walking with a noticeable limp.

When contacted at their homes Thursday morning, relatives of both men refused to comment on camera about the arrest.

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