Man Convicted Of Murder In 22-Year-Old Cold Case

(Photo by ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

John Oyewale Contributor
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A California man was convicted Friday of first-degree murder in a 22-year-old case, according to authorities.

Frank Gallas Mendoza was convicted for the murder of Richard Lucero, who was found dead with a ligature mark around his neck in his residence in El Mirage, Arizona, on December 20, 2001, Arizona State Troopers said in a statement.

The investigators had exhausted all leads and techniques on the case, causing it to go cold, per the statement. However, new DNA technologies led to the discovery of Mendoza’s latent fingerprint records and helped to match his DNA, which detectives obtained, with DNA found in multiple places in Lucero’s residence and on the ligature around Lucero’s neck. (RELATED: Officials Identify Killer In ‘Lady Of The Dunes’ Cold Case, Nearly 50 Years After Gruesome Murder)

Mendoza was arrested in his Fresno residence without incident in 2018 for the premeditated murder of Lucero. He was extradited to Arizona, where his brief trial at the Maricopa County Superior Court began August 11 and ended August 15 with a unanimous guilty verdict, the statement noted.

Mendoza will be sentenced September 12, the Troopers said.

The oldest cold case in the U.S. is presumably the January 2, 1956 fatal shooting of eighteen-year-0ld Duane Bogle and the rape and fatal shooting of Patricia Kalitzke, his 16-year-old girlfriend, in Great Falls, Montana, KIRO 7 reported. A single sperm cell and genetic genealogy linked Kenneth Gould, then a 29-year-old husband and father, with the double murder in June 2021. Gould, however, had died in 2007, and his children volunteered their DNA to help detectives investigate the case.