Felix Mendez

Felix Mendez

SIERRA VISTA— A teenager who investigators say killed a woman in a crash while transporting undocumented migrants has now been charged with first degree murder and kidnapping in the incident, an amended complaint filed by the Cochise County Attorney’s Office shows.

Felix Mendez, a 16-year-old from Mesa, also is accused of second degree murder, endangerment, manslaughter, aggravated assault and unlawful flight from a law enforcement vehicle.

The initial complaint was amended to add the first degree murder, second degree murder and kidnapping charges in the Oct. 30 incident. Deputy Cochise County Attorney Lori Zucco said Friday the kidnapping charges stem from two undocumented migrants in Mendez’s car when he slammed into motorist Wanda Sitoski, killing her instantly. The new murder charges are linked to Sitoski’s death.

Mendez had four undocumented migrants in his vehicle before a police stop prior to the accident. Three of the migrants will act as material witnesses against him, Zucco said.

The three undocumented individuals appeared in Sierra Vista Justice Court on Friday along with Mendez. The hearing was continued, but Zucco said the three natives of Mexico will be deposed on Wednesday. The two males and one female are being held at the Cochise County Jail, Zucco said.

Mendez was arrested on Oct. 30 after he crashed into Sitoski at State Routes 90 and 82, known as Mustang Corners. Two of the migrants were in the car when he collided with the 65-year-old Benson resident, Department of Public Safety troopers said.

Mendez had been driving west on SR 82 and ran the red light at the intersection. Sitoski had the green signal and was heading south on SR 90 when investigators said Mendez struck the side of her Ford Focus, almost slicing the car in half.

The incident originated in Tombstone earlier that afternoon when a Tombstone Marshal’s Office deputy observed a motorist traveling west on SR 82 at 43 to 45 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone, Tombstone Marshal Jim Adams said in a statement. The deputy attempted a traffic stop and the driver slowed to about 35 miles per hour before stopping, Adams said. At that point, two women believed to be undocumented migrants bolted from the vehicle, Adams said.

The women were pursued on foot by a Border Patrol agent, Adams said. The Border Patrol has a checkpoint station on State Route 80 nearby. Adams said the Tombstone deputy attempted to talk with the driver — later identified as Mendez — but Mendez took off at a high rate of speed, heading west on 82. Adams said the deputy caught up to the vehicle but said the motorist was driving at a “speed that was excessive.” The deputy then lost sight of the motorist, Adams said. He turned off his lights and siren and headed back to Tombstone.

According to a probable cause report filed in the case Friday by a Department of Public Safety trooper, “there were no law enforcement vehicles behind the Charger at the time of collision.”