A 17-year-old accused of beating a 68-year-old Sikh man and running him over in December has committed suicide, the Fresno County Coroner’s Office confirmed Friday.
Spokesman Tony Botti said that Alexis Mendoza, 17, killed himself on April 19 at his home. He had been out of custody since April 15 after posting $115,000 bail.
On April 1, Mendoza pleaded not guilty in Fresno County Superior Court to charges of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon, a vehicle, and denied the hate-crime allegation. He was facing up to 13 years in prison if convicted.
Mendoza, whose birthday was May 15, was being tried as an adult because of the seriousness of the charges.
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Mendoza’s attorney, Eddie Ruiz, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Fresno police said that Mendoza was driving a black Dodge Challenger on Dec. 26 with a passenger, 22-year-old Daniel Coronel Wilson, when they spotted Amrik Singh Bal on Shields Avenue west of Highway 99. Both men allegedly got out of the car and beat Bal with their fists, then got back into the car and intentionally ran him over. A security camera at a nearby home captured the suspects running over Bal.
Wilson, who is facing a felony assault charge, is out of jail on bail.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer said that the suspects targeted Bal solely because he was wearing a turban and traditional Sikh robes. The crime sparked weeks of outrage and fear in the Sikh community.
Dyer declined to comment on Mendoza’s suicide.