Woman sentenced for helping Bellingham man who shot, killed another in Ferndale escape

A woman will serve no jail time for helping a Bellingham man later convicted of killing a man at a Ferndale gathering escape in late January 2022.

Kimberly Trujillo Mendoza, 22, was sentenced in Whatcom County Superior Court to 364 days in jail, with all of them suspended.

She pleaded guilty to second-degree rendering criminal assistance, a gross misdemeanor, March 14 and was sentenced the same day, the court records state.

Trujillo Mendoza was previously charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance, a felony, but her charge was reduced as part of a plea agreement included in her boyfriend’s murder case, The Bellingham Herald previously reported.

Trujillo Mendoza was one of two people to help Miguel Angel Miranda, 24, escape Washington state after he murdered 28-year-old Jose Esquivel Hernandez on Jan. 23, 2022.

Miranda, who is a known gang member, was sentenced Nov. 23 to 21 years and two months in prison, with three years probation. He pleaded guilty Oct. 6 to one count of second-degree murder, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and one count of witness tampering for Hernandez’s shooting death.

Trujillo Mendoza and Miranda are in a dating relationship and have a child in common, The Herald previously reported. As part of Miranda’s plea deal, Trujillo Mendoza was offered the reduced rendering criminal assistance charge.

The shooting

Ferndale police were called at 12:18 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2022, to the American Legion building on Second Avenue in Ferndale for the report of a shooting at a large party, The Herald previously reported.

Officers found Hernandez outside the building with two gunshot wounds to his mid-torso. He was taken to St. Joseph’s hospital in Bellingham, where he later died, court records show.

Witnesses told police Hernandez denied Miranda and two other people who were with Miranda entry to the building and then escorted Miranda and the two people toward the parking lot, where an argument between them began, court records state.

One of the two people Miranda was with allegedly told Miranda to pull out a gun and shoot Hernandez. Miranda pulled a black handgun from his waistband and shot Hernandez, before fleeing with the two others in a vehicle, the records show.

Miranda was arrested more than a week later in Phoenix, Arizona, after he was spotted at a known gang house and was seen with a firearm. He was brought back to Washington where, until his sentencing in November, he had been incarcerated in the Whatcom County Jail.

During the investigation into Hernandez’s shooting death, investigators learned witnesses saw Miranda and Trujillo Mendoza at the party together before the shooting.

The following day, on Jan. 24, 2022, traffic cameras captured a photo of Trujillo Mendoza’s vehicle traveling south from Kingman, Arizona, towards Phoenix, Arizona. This helped lead investigators to Miranda’s location and ultimate arrest on Jan. 28, 2022.

The same night Miranda was arrested, Ogden, Utah, police officers stopped Trujillo Mendoza’s car. Receipts from businesses in Las Vegas and Phoenix were found inside the vehicle, which allowed investigators to find security footage and bank records that showed Trujillo Mendoza was in the car with another person, who police suspected was Miranda, the court records state.

Trujillo Mendoza later admitted to investigators that she picked Miranda up from Portland, Oregon, after the shooting and the pair drove to Arizona together. She also told investigators she was aware law enforcement had been searching for her vehicle and said both she and Miranda purchased new cellphones in Las Vegas, the records state.

Marcelo Tate Rodriguez, 19, was the second person who helped Miranda escape after the shooting. Rodriguez pleaded guilty Oct. 13 to first-degree rendering criminal assistance, a felony, and was sentenced the same day to six months in jail, according to court records. Rodriguez and Miranda are friends, the records show.