A jury has sentenced Alberto Mendiola to 20 years in prison for the shooting death of 30-year-old Anthony Bowler.
The 28-year-old Mendiola was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, but the judge later reduced the fine to $5,000. Earlier this week, Mendiola was acquitted of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter.
In 2014, Mediola broke into the East El Paso home of his estranged wife when he encountered Bowler, a guest at a barbecue. Mendiola, a former Fort Bliss soldier, shot through a door, mortally wounding Bowler, a fellow army veteran.
Mendiola's defense team admitted its client shot and killed Bowler, but indicated he did so because he was temporarily insane as a result of a flashback caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The defense used a local psychologist, Dr. James Schutte, to give credibility to its case Mendiola, diagnosed by the VA with PTSD, had a flashback to combat in Afghanistan when he confronted Bowler.
Schutte told jurors Mendiola told him he shot Bowler because he "looked Middle-Eastern." Schutte also said Mendiola explained his flashbacks were triggered by loud noises.
"I reached the conclusion that Albert was insane at the time of the offense," Schutte said during cross-examination.
"At the time of the incident, did Albert Mendiola know his conduct was wrong?" Defense Attorney Joe Spencer asked. "No he did not," replied Schutte.
The state's psychologist, Dr. Timothy Proctor, diagnosed Mendiola differently. Dr. Proctor said he spent three and a half hours evaluating Mendiola on just one occasion, administering just two tests, but came to the conclusion that he suffered from "provisional" PTSD. Proctor said he used the word provisional because some test results showed Mendiola may have been exaggerating.
"No doubt he certainly met the criteria for PTSD in terms of being exposed to trauma (during combat)," Dr. Proctor told the jury. "However, I had some concerns due to the results of the tests that there may be some exaggeration."
Proctor told the jury, more importantly, he diagnosed Mendiola with anti-social disorder in addition to other issues, like alcohol and cannibus use disorder.
During the trial, the defense showed jurors police dash cam video of its client's arrest. Mendiola mumbled words and phrases that were hard to comprehend. At one point Mendiola, wearing camouflage pants and black T-shirt says, "She really (expletive) me over putting a restraining order on me. I (expletive) went to war for her ass. I (expletive) lost it. I've got PTSD and she (expletive) me up."
The officer pressed Mendiola about why he lost it: "I (expletive) up man. That's all you need to know. Something evil. This time I finally felt it. My soul took off. All that shit finally built up in me and I lost it. I just (expletive) blanked out man. I was in (expletive) combat."