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Mendoza pleads guilty of stabbing, drug sale for selling pot

WILLMAR — Tamara Dawn Mendoza, 21, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Friday to a third-degree assault charges for stabbing a teen in August after the two women had an escalating argument over a gang-related incident. Mendoza also pleaded to a fifth-degree drug sale count for her role in selling marijuana to an informant last January.

As part of a plea agreement, a second-degree assault charge will be dismissed. She will be sentenced Feb. 14.

The assault charges were filed after Aug. 6, when Willmar police officers arrested an 18-year-old Willmar woman on an arrest warrant. One of the officers noticed that the teen had an injury on her left thumb. The teen said she had also been stabbed in the side by Mendoza on Aug. 3. The teen and Mendoza had traded escalating threats since approximately two months prior, when the teen’s younger brother was “jumped” by Mendoza and others for showing an opposing gang sign.

The teen said she had moved into a new residence and that Mendoza, who was staying at a nearby residence, fought with her. The teen said Mendoza attempted to stab her in the chest and that she got cut on her left thumb attempting to block the knife. Friends at the scene took the teen away from the scene and to the hospital for stitches on her hand. The officer noted wounds on the teen’s thumb and the web of her left hand, plus slice wounds to her chest, side, leg and shoulder.  

The drug charge was filed after a CEE-VI Drug Task Force informant purchased one-quarter pound of marijuana from four people, including Mendoza, for $350 in a parking lot along U.S. Highway 12 in Willmar.

The other defendants included Sergio Balladares Jr., 20, of Willmar, who was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and five years of probation; Mauro Berga Lopez-Rasmussen, 19, of Willmar, has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced Jan. 28; and Lauralee Mary Evans, 22, of Willmar, who was sentenced Nov. 27 to 30 days in the county jail, five years of probation and 200 hours of community work service.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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