LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge has vacated the death penalty for a 71-year-old Vietnam War veteran who raped and killed a woman a decade ago.
Frederick Mendoza was sent to death row in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to murdering 68-year-old Rita Kremberg.
Clark County District Judge Michael Villani vacated the death sentence in Las Vegas Thursday after Mendoza's lawyer said prosecutors agreed to commute the sentence to life without parole in exchange for waiving future challenges to his conviction.
Las Vegas attorney Jamie Resch says the jurors who convicted Mendoza knew that he had a 100 percent disability rating based on his post-traumatic stress disorder.
But Resch says they heard few details about the terrible events the Marine endured during more than 18 months of combat service in Vietnam. He says the commutation is extremely rare, but fair.