By Shereen Siewert
RHINELANDER, Wis. — Five days before a trial was set to begin in a Minocqua cold case murder, a judge agreed to a postponement after nearly 300 pages of wiretap transcripts emerged regarding a former suspect in the case.
Robin Mendez, 70, faces a first degree murder charge in Oneida County Court in connection with the 1982 death of his wife. Barbara Mendez was found dead at the Minocqua bank where she worked. Robin Mendez was arrested in February 2018 and has been jailed on a $250,000 cash bond ever since.
Prosecutors allege that the time of Barbara’s death, Robin Mendez was having a sexual relationship with 14-year-old girl. A former coworker told investigators Barbara Mendez believed something inappropriate had been going on, and planned to talk to Robin about their marriage. The next day Barbara Mendez was found dead.
Robin Mendez was convicted of child sexual assault just seven months later and was sentenced to four months in jail and three years on probation.
Late last week, prosecutors delivered the transcripts to Peter Prusinski, a defense attorney representing Robin Mendez. Those materials involve Thomas Boze, a man police long ago ruled out as a suspect. But on Wednesday, Prusinski argued that he needs time to review the transcripts to see if they could hep his case.
Documents such as wiretap transcripts are typically turned over early in the discovery process, but Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek told the judge he just discovered the transcripts existed.
Schiek asked to keep the trial on track but Judge Jill Falstad, the Marathon County Judge appointed to oversee the Oneida County case, called Prusinski’s argument that he could be missing additional defense material, a “legitimate concern.” Ultimately, Falstad ordered the trial delayed, complicating matters for prosecutors who have already scheduled witnesses and booked their travel for the trial, which was set to begin Monday.
New trial dates will be set next week.