Jury says 13-year-old charged with murder in death of 14-year-old in Olathe is not guilty


Zavier Mendoza, 14, was murdered in August 2019 (Courtesy WDAF-TV)

OLATHE, Kan. (WDAF) – A jury found a 13-year-old not guilty of second-degree murder of another teen in Johnson County, the district attorney said Thursday.

Zavier Mendoza, 14, was murdered at a townhome near South Constance Street, not far from South Black Bob Road and 125th Street on Thursday, Aug 8, 2019 around 2 a.m. Investigators said it appeared that someone shot Mendoza.

The 13-year-old, who was acquitted, is from Roeland Park and did know Mendoza. Because he’s a minor and charged as a juvenile, the teen’s name has not been released.

“He was kind of a chill guy,” friend Josiah Young told FOX4 in an interview shortly after Mendoza was murdered.

Mendoza was getting ready to for his first year in high school at Olathe East, looking forward to playing football there. At that time Young said Mendoza would talk about the end of summer and the need to wake up early for classes soon.

“He was a friend to pretty much everyone in this neighborhood,” Young said. “Most of the time he would be just funny, kind and most of the time he didn’t care what people think. He was just that kind of person.”

Tammy Billingsley was at home watching TV when she heard a strange noise.

“All of the sudden I heard this really loud clanking metal and then a big boom. I thought what is that noise?” Billingsley told FOX4 the day of the shooting, of the noise that ended Mendoza’s young life.

Billingsley didn’t know Mendoza was shot near her neighbor’s front porch, until she noticed flashing lights at her back door.

“And we saw cops out there like, you know, roaming the grass with their flashlights and I am thinking ‘OK, what are they looking for?’” Billingsley said. “You hear it on the news but you never think it is something that will happen in your neighborhood.”

It was something Young never thought would happen to his friend.

“He never really did anything to like be — no one was ever mean to him because he was that type of person,” Young said.

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