Wrongfully Convicted Grandmother Released from Prison

Maria Mendez

Hueston Hennigan lawyers Brian Hennigan, Joshua Michaelangelo Stein and Michael Todisco worked closely with Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent to secure the release of Maria Mendez, a grandmother wrongfully convicted of causing the death of her baby grandson.

Brian Hennigan led the Hueston Hennigan LLP team at the two-week hearing, delivering the opening statement at the hearing and examining witnesses in the courtroom while negotiating with the L.A. District Attorney’s Office for the immediate release of his client, Maria Mendez.

Prior to her release, Ms. Mendez, 64, had served 11 years of a 25-years-to-life sentence. During a post-conviction evidentiary hearing in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Hueston Hennigan demonstrated that Ms. Mendez’s conviction relied upon false expert testimony and suppressed evidence. Emphasizing the significance of newly acquired CT-scans and autopsy photos of the baby’s brain, the Hueston Hennigan team showed that the prosecution’s theory that the child had suffered from “Abusive Head Trauma” (formerly referred to as “Shaken Baby Syndrome”) was medically and scientifically flawed. After one week of evidence, the prosecution approached the defense team with a deal that would result in Ms. Mendez’s release from prison. Ms. Mendez accepted – and on June 27, 2018, with Ms. Mendez’s family in attendance, the court ordered Ms. Mendez’s immediate release. She is now living in Mexico with her family.