FORT WAYNE – Selena Trigg would love to hold her daughter, talk to her and watch her interact with her son.
But when 20-year-old Patrick Fluker shot Tiffany Mendez in the face in September 2010, Trigg lost that opportunity forever.
Trigg reminded Fluker of her loss Friday at Fluker’s sentencing hearing in Allen Superior Court.
I can’t hate you because I don’t know you, Trigg said to Fluker. But I really, really hate what you’ve done.
In February, a jury convicted Fluker of murder in the shooting death of Mendez, 29, as well as receiving stolen auto parts. The jury also found Fluker used a handgun in the commission of the murder, which added time to his prison sentence.
I hope you spend the rest of your life trying to make it up to your mother, Trigg said to Fluker. Don’t ever do anything to lose your mother’s love.
Fluker nodded, and mouthed yes ma’am as Trigg spoke.
Judge John Surbeck sentenced Fluker to a total of 61 1/2 years in prison for the crimes – 55 years for the murder, 1 1/2 years for receiving stolen auto parts and five years for the use of the gun.
This was a senseless act, Surbeck said, calling Mendez’s killing cold-blooded.
Fluker was arrested minutes after police were called to a report of shots fired in the early-morning hours of Sept. 3, 2010. An officer found him urinating on the side of a building near Broadway. Atop the building, they found a 9 mm handgun and a box of ammunition, which matched a receipt found in Fluker’s pockets.
In a wooded area near the General Electric plant, other police working in the area found the naked, still-warm body of Mendez. She had been shot once, and 9 mm shell casings were found at the scene.
During the hearing, Fluker apologized for his actions.
I cry every night about the situation, he said.
Surbeck noted that both sides were touching on the same issues – Fluker’s struggles with mental health issues, refusal to accept treatment and a history of violent behavior.
Fluker’s attorney, Michelle Kraus, said the symptoms of the mental health issues were demonstrated in his violent behavior and refusal to accept treatment.
He wants to do right, Kraus said.
But Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Stacey Speith said Fluker does not choose to do the right thing. And while he has hurdles to overcome, they are not overcome by shooting someone in the face, Speith said.
Before Surbeck sentenced Fluker, Trigg also urged him to seek God’s forgiveness.
Trigg said she knew Fluker’s mother raised him to know the Bible, having seen her in court with one throughout the trial.
She turned to Fluker’s mother as she spoke.
I know that Bible kept you strong, didn’t it? Trigg asked.
Yes, said Fluker’s mother, nodding.
Trigg turned back to the defendant.
Let the Lord’s love change your heart, she said.
Surbeck noted Trigg’s words of forgiveness.
She’s been very kind to you, he said to Fluker. She’s extended some very good advice to you.
After the hearing, Trigg said she struggles as she watches Mendez’s son deal with the loss of his mother.
Her son aches for his mama, Trigg said.
She said she puts her arms around him and tries to offer him comfort, but it’s not enough and that there remains a part of him only his mother can console.
I’m trying to give him a good life, she said. But it’s not the same as a mother’s love.