Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Staff Writer
Friday, 22 February 2013 11:09
A variety of people are known to voice disparaging words for convicted felons. Few of those felons use such words for themselves in court.
|File photo. Cory Mendoza in Judge Mayberry's court in 2010. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
At a resentencing hearing Thursday morning Cory Mendoza told judge Alan Mayberry, "You saw me for who I was, a maggot, that's what I am."
Despite his apparent change of attitude, Mendoza still received the same 39 total years in prison to which he was originally sentenced.
Mendoza, 24, formerly of McClure, was convicted for causing the fatal crash which killed a Weston couple in October 2008. The Sixth District Court of Appeals demanded the resentencing in regard to a technical issue on one of the related misdemeanor charges and the need for that charge to be combined.
Mendoza was driving while intoxicated on a suspended license when he caused the crash that claimed the lives of Sharon and William DeWitt and injured their daughter, Shelen Stevens along with Stevens' then infant son.
"I apologize for my part in the court system which brought this back so vividly for you and your family," Mayberry said to the Stevens and DeWitt family.
When given his opportunity to address the judge, Mendoza agreed completely with the judge's original assessment that Mendoza was self-absorbed and selfish.
"I was selfish, I was arrogant, I am a bad person," Mendoza said.
"I know that today what you said then was right," he told the judge. "I was not remorseful - it was all self-serving. I did it all for me."
He then turned toward the victims and said, "I am sorry for what I caused you."
However, as he tried to continue, Stevens, her husband, Greg, and her brother, Bill DeWitt, all indicated they did not want to hear from him.
Mendoza then turned toward those in his own family adding, "I am sorry for the hurt I caused my own family,"
He said Mayberry's words to him previously finally got through to him, helping him to realize his need to change.
He said he was not asking for a shortened sentence.
"I know the sentence was not enough for what I caused," Mendoza said.
He then asked the judge a question about going beyond the prison walls to help other youth. He said that teens and young adults don't want to listen to their parents.
"I know how kids think, I'm still a kid," he said. "I can write a letter and tell my story. I could speak to any appropriate group. I would love to give something back."
As driver of the van in which her parents died, Stevens talked about her life since the accident.
She said they adopt a family motto each year, with the motto for 2013 being "Surviving is not enough."
"I want to succeed," she said. "I haven't had one moment of joy since Oct. 5 at 6:01 p.m. 6:01 is like a mantra in my head."
Greg Stevens described how every day is a challenge in their household, including their now 7-year-old son who "still carries this with him every day."
He added, "No matter what time he serves, we still have the same sentence. The results are still with us all these years later."
DeWitt noted Mendoza's "arrogance" in the civil trial associated with the accident.
He told the judge, "I know that you know in your heart all about this individual."
Assistant Wood County prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers said the sentence needs to send a message that there are consequences to these blatant acts to hopefully deter others.
"Nothing will ever make it better for the victims."