KERN COUNTY, Calif. — On Tuesday, two Kern County residents were acquitted by a federal jury after allegedly trying to help the suspected killer of Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh escape to Mexico.
According to officials, during a traffic stop last Christmas, Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh was shot and killed by undocumented immigrant Paulo Virgen Mendoza who was suspected of drunk driving at the time.
The Department of Justice said after the shooting, Mendoza's friends and family members, who were also undocumented immigrants, conspired together to help him escape to Mexico after learning he was wanted by police.
Officials said 60-year-old Bernabe Madrigal Castañeda of the Bakersfield-Lamont area provided Mendoza with food and a place to stay.. According to authorities, on December 28, SWAT arrested Mendoza at Castañeda's house after receiving information that he was there. On Tuesday, Castañeda entered a guilty plea to the conspiracy and was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. A jury acquitted Castañeda's wife, 57-year-old Maria Luisa Moreno who was issued a notice to appear initiating deportation proceedings.
Mendoza's brother, 34-year-old Conrado Virgen Mendoza, and friend of the family 28-year-old Erik Quiroz Razo, reportedly helped him conceal his truck and drove him to various locations. Officials said Razo reportedly disposed of Paulo's loaded firearm.
Mendoza’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Ana Leydi Cervantes Sanchez, who was living with Mendoza in Newman reportedly provided him with clothes. On Tuesday, a jury sentenced her to one year and one day in prison after she pleaded guilty to conspiring to aid and abet Mendoza’s flight to avoid prosecution for murder, conspiring to harbor an undocumented immigrant, and harboring an undocumented immigrant.
The jury also acquitted an additional family member, 36-year-old Erasmo Villegas Suarez who also lives in the Bakersfield-Lamont area, according to officials. Suarez was also issued a notice to appear initiating deportation proceedings and faces additional federal charges relating to fraud involving identification documents.