Lamont murder suspects did drugs, dug holes as woman’s body sat in car outside home, reports say

Crime Watch

LAMONT, Calif. (KGET) — After the gun went off and it was clear his girlfriend was dead, Jose Maldonado drove home with his half-brother, court documents say. They went inside, leaving the body in the front seat, and spent the next 10 days doing drugs and digging holes in the backyard until deputies showed up, the filings say.

Maldonado told investigators he wasn’t sure why his half-brother, Antonio Barraza, shot the woman. Barraza, who admitted to firing the deadly shot, said Maldonado told him “Kill this (expletive)” after he got in the back seat, so he did as he was asked, the documents say. He shot her through the back of the seat.

Another person contacted by detectives offered the following motive: The woman owed Maldonado drug money and may have stolen a gold necklace from him.

Whatever the reason, the body of 24-year-old Maricruz Mendoza sat in a Chevy Monte Carlo parked outside a home on Elmco Avenue until deputies were called Oct. 16. She was then taken to the coroner’s office, and the two men to jail.

Maldonado, 48, and Barraza, 37, have pleaded not guilty to charges including murder and are each held on $1 million bail. They’re next due in court Feb. 9.

During his interview at the Lamont substation, Barraza at first told investigators he thought Mendoza was asleep in the car. He soon admitted that was a lie.

“I asked Barraza if the female got out of the car at any point during the 10 day she was there,” an investigator wrote in the documents. “Barraza said she did not. I asked Barraza if she was actually sleeping. Barraza said she wasn’t.”

Barraza said he spent the past 10 days smoking marijuana and methamphetamine, the documents say. Asked about the holes in the backyard, he said Maldonado had told him to dig them, and Maldonado joined in the digging. He shrugged when asked if the plan was to bury Mendoza’s body there, according to the filings.

It crossed his mind to also kill Maldonado, Barraza said in the documents, but he couldn’t do it because he’s “not that type of person.” He asked a detective to tell his family he was sorry.

“I made a big mistake so now I gotta pay for it,” Barraza told the detective.

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