Four sentenced in 2011 fight at Denny's

Two men and two women were sentenced Thursday afternoon on charges of battery after attacking a waitress and her family in the parking lot of Denny's.

The four were originally arrested on Sept. 2, 2011, with two others. The trial, which lasted for four days, saw one defendant acquitted and the other four guilty. A sixth man pleaded guilty to possession of a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct.

Three of the brawlers, Jonathan Mena-Morales, 21; Cindy Loane Salinas, 23; and Andrew Lopez, 21, were found guilty of battery. The fourth brawler in the trial, Jaqueline Ayala Martinez, 23, was found guilty of both battery and disorderly conduct.

Christopher Mejia, 26, was acquitted.

Kendall Rubio, 20, pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor of possession of a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct. Rubio had a pair of brass knuckles on him when he was arrested.

Justice of the Peace Tom Armstrong gave all four the same suspended 120-day sentence of four days in jail, 80 hours of community service, a year of formal probation and substance abuse and anger management evaluations.

In determining the sentence, Armstrong said he considered the fact that the four have full-time jobs and have not been in trouble since.

"I'm impressed by the lifestyles you lead," he told the defendants.

Deputies were dispatched to Denny's on North Carson Street at 12:43 a.m. on Sept. 2, 2011, according to the police report. Upon arrival, deputies reported seeing one person on the ground, being punched while another was preparing to swing a baseball bat

The brawl allegedly started after a group was asked to leave Denny's for unruly behavior.

When a waitress attempted to write down the license plate numbers of those involved, the two women, Salinas and Martinez, attacked her. When her family stepped in to protect her, two men also were attacked.

All four defendants apologized in court.

The victim said she has no feeling in the upper half of one side of her face and, along with her sister, is taking anxiety medication. She said she quit her job at Denny's out of fear.

She said she was angered by snickering and laughing that occurred during the trial between the four defendants.

"It's just a big joke," she said.

Judge Armstrong, too, took note.

"I noticed the laughing, the snickering, the passing of notes amongst almost all of you," he said. "I didn't appreciate it. I saw it too."

The 80 hours of community service is partially because of the defendants behavior during the trial, he said.

"Some of the stink of that jail," Armstrong said. "You guys need to experience it."


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