BZ 022715 Victoria Mendoza Screen Grabs 03-16

Victoria Mendoza appears for a preliminary hearing in court in Ogden on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Mendoza plead not guilty to stabbing her girlfriend over 40 times.

OGDEN — A woman charged with stabbing her girlfriend to death on the freeway has been found competent to stand trial, although her attorney says the case could be delayed by months.

Victoria Mendoza, 22, is charged with the first-degree felony murder of Tawnee Baird, 21, on Oct. 18, 2014. She appeared in 2nd District Court Thursday, Aug. 27, hearing that psychologists have concluded she is mentally capable of standing trial.

Police said Mendoza admitted to killing Baird. Mendoza told police she and Baird were fighting while driving on Interstate 15 when she “lost it,” pulled out a knife and began stabbing her girlfriend, according to a probable cause statement.

An autopsy revealed Baird, who was driving, suffered about 40 stab wounds, prosecutors said.

Mendoza’s attorney, Michael Studebaker, has filed a motion to postpone the trial for six months, pending the outcome of a separate case. The Mendoza trial is set for Nov. 30-Dec. 9. 

In the separate case, Studebaker is challenging state law, pushing for more defense funds to be provided to defendants too poor to afford private attorneys.

“If you’re rich, you’re cool. If you’re poor, you’re screwed,” Studebaker told the Standard-Examiner Thursday. “Our public defenders do fine work, but they are overworked and underpaid.”

Studebaker told the court he will likely have to drop out of the Mendoza case if his client cannot receive the resources necessary to retain him. This would prompt the court to appoint a public defender to Mendoza’s case. The replacement attorney would not be familiar with the case and would need to reschedule the trial anyway to prepare, he said.

Weber County Attorney Chris Allred argued against the postponement motion, adding that Studebaker’s federal case on attorney fees has no merit. If a public defender must be appointed, it should be done as soon as possible, Allred said.

Casey Baird, father of Tawnee Baird, expressed his frustration Thursday with the slowness of the case. He said Studebaker needed to “man up” and accept that Mendoza doesn’t have the resources to retain him. He said he would accept a delay if a public defender was appointed.

Judge Joseph Bean set a review hearing for Sept. 17, after Studebaker’s federal case is argued, to determine what action to take on the case.

Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or arivera@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Andreas.

 

(5) comments

anonymous

Yeah actually there is quite a bit of information missing from the story..stating how they were fighting and she "lost it" making her out to be some psycho...when the truth to that statement he forgot to put in was the fact that they were both intoxicated, and high off of GHP, lortabs, percocets, and neurontin. The fact that Victoria was also getting beat before she "lost it" by Tawnee. So yeah a few facts that the media tends to leave out with any story like this to make it seem as if the person being accused are lunatics with no story of their own.

fieldingbandolier

Was there anything factually inaccurate in this story?

anonymous

Freeway murderer? Really Andreas? What a pathetic headline to show case your story. Casey Baird can be frustrated all he wants...he obviously is not educated when it comes to the process of the court system, that's why he rally's up an entire posy to attend every hearing thinking she's getting convicted that day...mean while he's high off his pills and still hung over from the night before. Get the real facts about the ENTIRE story from BOTH sides before putting out an article like this.

fieldingbandolier

The "lost it" phrase appears to be a quote from the defendant, lifted from the probable cause statement. If she didn't say that, it would be an interesting addition to the story. If it lacks contextual embedding, well, you can't put everything in a news story. If the contextual embedding it lacks relates to an intoxicated state or mutual conflict, I'm not sure that's relevant; "lost it" is "lost it", regardless of predisposing factors. (You can get high on Neurontin? Really?)I think the people reading these stories will assume there's another side to be presented, and if you have some connection to the defendant, I can understand how the headline might trouble you. The story seems pretty balanced to me, though, as these things go. Your statements about Casey Baird undermine your credibility; whether or not he's of poor character and questionable sobriety, it's his daughter he's upset about. This is the something I'd think anybody, and certainly any parent, could sympathize with.

anonymous

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