Trials Set For Juveniles Accused Of Mendes Murder
By: James Kinsella
Trials are pending in Plymouth Juvenile Court against two juveniles accused of murdering a 16-year-old Centerville youth in 2008.
Mykel Mendes of Centerville is set to go on trial June 25, and Kevin Ribeiro of Hyannis is set to go on trial September 10, according to a source who declined to be identified.
The Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office declined to comment, as did William Gens of Boston and West Barnstable, who represents Kevin Ribeiro. John Cunha of Boston, who is representing Mykel Mendes, did not return calls seeking comment.
The two youths each were 13 in December 2008 when, according to police, they conspired with Robert Vacher, then 20 and now 23, of South Yarmouth to kill Jordan Mendes, a sophomore at Barnstable High School.
Mykel Mendes was the half-brother of Jordan Mendes. Kevin Ribeiro was a friend of Mykel Mendes.
Police say Jordan Mendes was killed December 15, 2008, at a house on Arrowhead Drive in Hyannis. Investigators said the youth had been stabbed 27 times and shot. His body was found burning in a pit off Jennifer Lane in Hyannis the following evening.
They further say that the trio proceeded to steal oxycodone and about $10,000 in cash from Jordan Mendes—identified by Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe as a significant drug dealer—using the money to purchase a used BMW.
Last November, a Barnstable Superior Court jury convicted Mr. Vacher, who was tried as an adult, of first-degree murder in the Mendes case.
Judge Robert C. Rufo sentenced Mr. Vacher to life in prison without parole.
Police say Mykel Mendes and Kevin Ribeiro provided Mr. Vacher with the gun and the knife that he used to kill Jordan Mendes.
The two juveniles, who were arrested shortly after the killing, have remained in custody awaiting the outcome of their cases.
Even if convicted of the murder, Mykel Mendes and Kevin Ribeiro under current law could be released from custody at age 18 and must be released at age 21.
As juvenile defendants, the identities of Mykel Mendes and Kevin Ribeiro normally would be kept from public view.
But the two youths were identified in documents at Barnstable Superior Court preceding the trial of Mr. Vacher, as well as in testimony at the Vacher trial itself.
Given that the trials are slated for juvenile court, the proceedings will be closed to the public, according to a spokeswoman for Plymouth Juvenile Court.
The two juveniles initially faced criminal proceedings in Barnstable Juvenile Court.
But following the arrest of Mykel Mendes and Kevin Ribeiro, attorneys representing the two juveniles successfully moved in Barnstable Juvenile Court to move their respective trials to Plymouth County.
The attorneys argued that extensive pretrial publicity precluded the possibility of fair and impartial trials in Barnstable County.
Following the decision by Barnstable Juvenile Judge James Torney to allow the motions to move the juvenile cases, the district attorney’s office filed petitions arguing that the judge had abused his discretion in allowing the motions.
The district attorney’s office argued that the juveniles have not shown that pretrial publicity would deprive them of fair trials in Barnstable County, and that the judge should have at least tried to seat an impartial jury before allowing a change of venue.
The single justice who reviewed the district attorney’s petitions concluded that Judge Torney had not abused his discretion, and denied those petitions.
The district attorney’s office then appealed that decision to the full Supreme Judicial Court.
On April 12, the court proceeded to rule for Mykel Mendes, referred to in the court decision as “Tobias T.,” and Kevin Ribeiro, referred to in the court decision as “Vicente V.” A source confirmed the actual identity of the two youths who were the subject of the SJC decision.