Forensic Consultant believes pry bar was used to kill Barbara MendezSubmitted: 04/15/2019
Rose McBride
Rose McBride

Forensic Consultant believes pry bar was used to kill Barbara Mendez
ONEIDA COUNTY - After Barbara Mendez's murder, time passed with no answers and no arrests. Robin Mendez's older brother Ben Mendez contacted police himself after the initial 1982 investigation. 

"I was concerned about the fact that the case had not been formally solved and I was concerned my brother Bob was involved," said Ben Mendez.

Ben said he had concerns about his brother Robin's, also known as Bob's, behavior, but wasn't sure exactly what was going on. 

Ben said Robin would leave the upholstery shop throughout the day, and come back having showered and put on cologne. 

"He would look for reasons to take what we would call a 'town run,'" said Ben. "He would go and it might have been a simple town run that he wanted or insisted on going on and some days no town run at all that we had planned that he would go."

Ben testified Monday in Robin's murder trial he worked with Robin in the family's upholstery business. They used a tool called a Wonder Bar in their work. Ben left the business in 1985, but kept a Wonder Bar that he later turned over to investigators in the early 2000s. 

"I kept it because of its potential significance as a weapon that may have been similar in the one used in Barbara's death," said Ben.

Investigators can't say for sure what weapon was used to kill Barbara. But forensic consultant Christopher Robinson says the wounds to Barbara's head could have come from a Wonder Bar.

"They're rough, they're not like a knife so as you pull them across the skull it has irregular lacerations," said Robinson. 

He used clay molds to test the type of damage a Wonder Bar would do. Robinson said clay responds similarly to skin. 

Defense attorney Peter Prusinski argued prosecutors didn't do enough tests to another weapon could have been used. 

During his testimony, Robinson ruled out other weapons, like a different type of pry bar and a socket wrench.
"This type of tool, the pry bar that you see before you, your honor, would be the type of tool used when she was killed," said Robinson.

Later Monday afternoon, Robin Mendez's ex-wife told the court she and Mendez spoke about what happened to Barbara. 

Mendez was married to Lorri Domke in 1984 until they divorced in 2004. 

Domke said Mendez told her he spoke with his daughters about getting their story straight. 

He also offered Domke information about why he could be placed at the scene the night Barbara was murdered. 

"He kind of made it aware if his fingerprints were behind the counter it was because he was behind the counter all the time," said Domke. "He also said if there were any hairs found it was because they shared a jacket." 

Barbara's sister also testified Monday afternoon. She confirmed that she saw Barbara's car at Park City Credit Union the night of the murder. 

Barbara's sister told the judge her family, rather than Robin, bought the headstone for Barbara's grave. The trial continues Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. 

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