By Cecilio Padilla

STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) — Paulo Virgen Mendoza, the man accused of fatally shooting Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh during a traffic stop in December 2018, has taken a plea deal.

Ronil Singh (credit: Handout)

Mendoza, 34, was in Stanislaus County Court on Thursday to enter a guilty plea.

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Prosecutors said Mendoza shot Singh after being pulled over in the area of Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue on suspicion of a DUI just before 1 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2018. Mendoza allegedly arraigned to be smuggled across the border into Mexico, but he was arrested several days after the shooting.

Several of Mendoza’s family and acquaintances were later indicted on federal charges of attempting to help Mendoza try to escape.

At the sentencing hearing, an officer took the stand and said Cpt. Singh was a man of integrity. He then looked at Mendoza and called him a coward. Another officer, who was Singh’s beat partner, said she went through counseling to get through his shooting. She said Mendoza deserves life behind bars, without parole.

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Singh’s brother also spoke, addressing Mendoza directly and showed videos and pictures of Singh, including Singh’s ashes, and a young child visiting his grave.

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Mendoza was facing the death penalty if convicted. However, the plea deal means that he will instead face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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