The judge had little doubt about the ferocity of the violent rape of a woman who had been strangled, beaten and sexually assaulted in the laundry room of her Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment building.
Judge Robert Greenberg viewed vending machine security camera footage of the attack. He said the video of the attack, which went on for approximately eight minutes, was nearly unwatchable.
Kevin Mendoza, 27, will serve 30 years in prison for the August 2019 rape of the young woman, who appeared by video conferencing during the sentencing hearing Thursday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
“I saw it with a sense of embarrassment, horror and total revulsion,” Greenberg told Mendoza before sentencing him. “It almost made me sick to my stomach to watch what you did to this young woman.”
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy told WTOP that he agreed with the judge’s assessment of the attack. “He called it revolting,” McCarthy said. “This was brutal.”
In court, prosecutors Dermot Garrett and Lauren Turner asked Greenberg to sentence Mendoza to life in prison because of the severity of the violence.
The woman calmly described the traumatizing attack, and the way it continued to affect her life.
She was new to Montgomery County. The brutal attack left her in the hospital for five days; doctors said the strangulation could have killed her.
Mendoza was initially charged with attempted murder, but pleaded guilty to the rape in February.
“When someone attacks you at home, no place seems safe,” the woman told the judge. “I sleep with a night light for the first time since childhood.”
She said most of her physical injuries have healed, except a foot injury, but the attack stays with her.
“I’ve had too many nightmares,” she said. “It left me distressed, confused and anxious about the future. I’m moving forward, one step at a time.”
Public defender Samantha Sandler told Greenberg that on the day of the attack, Mendoza had consumed 18 beers before lunch. She said Mendoza’s drinking began as a teenager in Honduras.
“The drinking got out of hand — he went to the hospital twice,” Sandler said.” He’s a good man, when he’s not completely drunk.”
Mendoza’s former wife testified on his behalf, saying alcoholism has been his downfall, losing his marriage and job, and ultimately, his freedom.
Before being sentenced, Mendoza spoke to the victim via video. “I want to apologize a thousand times. From the bottom of my heart, I’m asking you to forgive me,” he said.
Mendoza said he had no recollection of the event because “alcohol clouded my mind, and my brain.”
“I don’t remember anything that happened that night. It doesn’t justify what I did. But when I saw the video, I saw myself. That was me,” Mendoza said.
He asked the judge for mercy, so he could help raise his two children, ages 2 and 8.
Greenberg said pronouncing a sentence is never easy, including in Mendoza’s case. “I don’t believe you’re an inherently bad person. You have no prior record. I honestly believe you’re sorry,” he said.
However, the impact on the victim is palpable, the judge said. “Her pain is indescribable.”
“You left her with a lifetime to remember this. Pray it won’t be the case, but every day she wakes up for the rest of her life, she’s going to think of this,” Greenberg said.
In sentencing Mendoza to life in prison, and suspending all but 30 years, Greenberg also sentenced him to five years supervised release and probation. He will be ordered to register as a sex offender.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mendoza is in the country illegally.
McCarthy said ICE has already filed a detainer, and Mendoza will be deported after serving his sentence in Montgomery County.