Project for the Innocent: Client Maria Mendez

LPI has several cases in the court system right now, including that of our client, Maria Mendez.  Maria is a mother of ten children and grandmother of 17.  She and her husband raised their family in Los Angeles as devout Christians, in a loving and caring home environment.  Her family and her church were Maria’s whole life. 

In December 2006, Maria’s life was turned upside down.  Maria’s 9-month-old grandson, Emmanuel, collapsed in her living room and stopped breathing.  He died shortly thereafter.  Six months later, in July 2007, despite the fact that Emmanuel had a history of very serious illness and a fall onto a cement floor when he was in his father’s care, Maria was charged with killing her grandson. 

Maria had no criminal record and had never been arrested before.  She is poor and speaks no English.  After a preliminary hearing, the Court actually dismissed the murder charge for insufficient evidence.  Nonetheless, prosecutors re-filed the charges.

Maria has never wavered in her innocence. She is now in her early 60s and will likely die in prison unless she is able to prove her innocence. Her family, including Emmanuel’s mother, stand by her.  They know she is innocent and would never have harmed her own grandson.  The truth is that Emmanuel was a very sick child who died of respiratory ailments—not at the hands of his own grandmother.

LPI has conducted an exhaustive investigation into Maria’s case and is now fighting Maria’s case through the court system.  Maria is one of several clients who are expected to have hearings this year on their cases.

Funding.  Like other innocence organizations nationwide, LPI is independently funded. While LPI’s mission to exonerate the wrongfully convicted is shared among may other similar organizations, LPI receives no funding from any other innocence organization.  We rely entirely on our donors.  Please give.