RHINELANDER (WAOW) - A Marathon County judge was named Tuesday to preside over the case accusing a 69-year-old Minocqua man of killing his wife more than three decades ago, perhaps using a "pry bar" to beat her in the head, according to online Oneida County court records.
Robin Mendez is charged with first-degree murder in the April 28, 1982, death of Barbara Mendez, whose beaten body was found at Park City Credit Union where she worked.
At an earlier court appearance, Mendez exercised his right to replace Circuit Judge Leon Stenz, and Judge Jill Falstad of Wausau was named to replace him, court records said.
The next step in the case is for Mendez to enter a plea.
The Oneida County Sheriff's Department said it worked with the Minocqua Police Department on the case for 36 years, and interviewed every witness again the past few months. The agency said the television crime show "Cold Justice," which is doing a show on the killing on the Oxygen Network, provided fresh eyes and resources to authorities, helping lead to Mendez's recent arrest.
The review concluded Mendez was unaccounted for during the time of his wife's murder, a captain has testified.
A 36-page criminal complaint uses mostly circumstantial evidence to make the case against Mendez. There were no eyewitnesses, no confession from him and no indication the murder weapon was found.
The day before she died, a "so depressed" Mrs. Mendez told a friend she thought she was going to die soon and "couldn't take it anymore," complaining that she and her husband were growing apart, they never did anything anymore and she wanted the marriage to work even if he had an affair with a teenage girl from their church, the complaint said.
An autopsy determined Mrs. Mendez suffered "multiple blunt injuries, abrasions and lacerations of head, with extensive skull fractures." Investigators believe a "pry bar" or a "Wonder Bar" was used in the attack.
His two daughters said they confronted their father in 1982 about their mother's death and he never denied it. "Both said...Robin Mendez would say that he would tell them someday what happened to their mother, but he could not tell them now," the complaint said.