Charges upped for man accused of killing two teens in head-on crash

Mendoza(Grand Forks Police)
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 7:48 PM CST
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EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. (Valley News Live) - Charges have been amended for the man accused of killing two teenagers in a head-on crash in June.

20-year-old Valentin Mendoza was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and faced up to 10 years in prison. He’s now charged with 2 counts each of Criminal Vehicular Homicide (maximum sentence of 10 years), Murder in Third Degree Depraved Mind (maximum sentence 25 years) and Intentional Murder in the Second Degree (maximum sentence of 40 years). He’ll be in court again February 8th.

Mendoza was the center of a nationwide manhunt in November, before finally turning himself into Polk County authorities.

East Grand Forks Police responded to the two-car crash just after 3 p.m. on June 17, on Highway 220 just one mile north of Polk County Road 19.

Analysis on the crash later revealed Mendoza’s pickup truck crossed over the center line into the oncoming lane of traffic and struck the car the teens were driving head-on. When officers looked at the speedometer on Mendoza’s pickup truck, it read the vehicle was last going 75 miles per hour even though the posted speed limit was 45.

Documents say when officers arrived on scene, 17-year-old driver was bleeding from his eyes, nose, and mouth, had deep agonal breathing, was unresponsive, and was pinned between the seat and dashboard. He died at a Grand Forks hospital on June 29. The 16-year-old passenger wasn’t breathing when officers arrived, court documents said. He died at the hospital on June 23.

Mendoza’s mother later told officers Mendoza was bipolar and had a history of making suicidal comments. Mendoza’s girlfriend told officers she received a Snapchat from Mendoza at 3:05 p.m. which showed him driving and stated he was going to commit suicide, documents say.

Mendoza has a laundry list of criminal convictions in his file including conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit terrorizing, theft and speeding.

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