28 years for killing a man with a baseball bat as he hung Christmas lights

Pedro Mendiola and Jose Tellez (Chicago Police Department, Martinez Funeral Home)

CHICAGO — On December 11, 2021, Jose Tellez was hanging Christmas lights outside his home in the 3500 block of West 58th Street when two men walked up and one started to beat him with a baseball bat.

Tellez’s 14-year-old daughter, hearing her father’s screams, looked out the window and saw the attack in progress. She and her brother went outside and found Tellez gravely wounded and his phone missing. He later died.

It was a completely random attack, part of a cross-city crime spree the men undertook that afternoon, robbing at least 13 people and attacking 10 with the bat and a crowbar, prosecutors said.

Last week, one of the men, Pedro Mendiola, pleaded guilty to his role in the crimes. Judge Demenica Stephenson sentenced him to 34 years in prison and ordered him to serve nearly all of the time.

A convicted felon, Mendiola, 25, was on bail for a pending gun case at the time of the four-hour spree. He allegedly told police that he regretted participating in the violent attacks, but Christmas was around the corner, and he had no money for his kids.

The evidence against Mendiola and 23-year-old Moises Barrios included phone video of them riding around in a red Dodge Intrepid with a blue aluminum baseball bat before the attacks began, prosecutors said. Barrios continues to fight the allegations in court.

Their first alleged crime of the day, an armed robbery while wielding the baseball bat, failed around 3:52 p.m. when the victim ran away on the 3500 block of North Laramie.

Others would not be so lucky.

Five minutes later, Barrios hit an Amazon driver in the head with the bat during a robbery, prosecutors said. A witness allegedly saw them search the driver for valuables and escape in the Intrepid, registered to Barrios’ mother.

After that, the duo swung the bat at a postal worker and demanded his property. They allegedly broke out the window of his delivery truck with the bat, stole items from inside the vehicle, and drove away in the Intrepid.

At 4:15 p.m., another robbery victim was hit in the head with a bat, then kicked as he lay on the ground near Lockwood and Berenice in Portage Park. Prosecutors said Barrios and Mendiola robbed him of his phone, shoes, and money.

During an initial bail hearing for the men, an assistant state’s attorney described one robbery after another with similar, violent details.

About halfway into their spree, the two men allegedly attacked and killed Tellez as his daughter looked on from inside the home.

The men continued to attack and rob victims for another 90 minutes, according to the allegations.

Around 9 p.m., police went to the Dodge Intrepid’s registered address and found Barrios standing next to it in the alley.

Cops recovered a crowbar and a baseball bat from the Intrepid. The bat allegedly bore fingerprints from Mendiola and Tellez’s blood.

Last Thursday, Mendiola pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, 12 counts of armed robbery, and felony criminal damage to property. Judge Stephenson sentenced him to two 28-year terms for the murder charges, to be served concurrently at 100%. She gave him a consecutive 6-year sentence for the robberies, with a concurrent year for the criminal damage.

The six-year sentence will be reduced to three years for good behavior, meaning Mendiola can expect to spend 31 years in prison.

About Tim Hecke 333 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com