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James Mendoza interview

Friday, May 18, 2012 - 1:30 p.m.

James Mendoza is a partner in a medical practice with Veronica Smith and Hilton Burns. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha Gastroenterology Center. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Dr. James Mendoza

Detective Murphy: Good afternoon, Dr. Mendoza. Thank you for seeing us. We’re both sorry for the loss of your friend.

Dr. James Mendoza: Thank you.

Detective Murphy: Before we get started, Dr. Mendoza, we need your name and address for our records.

Dr. James Mendoza: Of course. My name is Dr. James Mendoza and I live at 613 Sage Cove, Oxford.

Detective Murphy: How long have you known Dr. Smith?

Dr. James Mendoza: Veronica and I met in 2006 when I joined her practice here at the Yoknapatawpha Gastroenterology Center.

Detective Murphy: How would you describe your relationship?

Dr. James Mendoza: We had a good work relationship. Outside of that, we didn’t socialize much. Only occasionally did we attend the same functions through work.

Detective Murphy: What were your thoughts when you heard that Dr. Smith may have taken her own life?

Dr. James Mendoza: I was shocked. In the years I’ve known her, I never saw any signs of depression or anything that would point to her being suicidal.

Detective Armstrong: Did Dr. Smith ever confide in you about the malpractice suit or any other problems she might be having?

Dr. James Mendoza: No, she didn’t discuss the malpractice suit or any personal problems. I assumed her lawyer had advised her not to discuss the suit. Occasionally, we would ask about each other’s families, but mostly our discussions at work were solely related to our patients.

Detective Armstrong: When was the last time you saw or spoke to Dr. Smith? What was her demeanor that day?

Dr. James Mendoza: It was last Friday, the 11th. She seemed OK to me. We discussed some patients, and she went about her business as usual. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

Detective Armstrong: What do you think of Dr. Smith’s husband?

Dr. James Mendoza: I’ve met George, and he seems like a nice guy. I don’t know him well enough to judge him in any way.

Detective Armstrong: What do you know of Dr. Smith’s ex-husband?

Dr. James Mendoza: I know he’s the father of Veronica’s daughter Haley, but I’ve never met the man.

Detective Armstrong: How well did you and Dr. Smith get along?

Dr. James Mendoza: We got along well most of the time, but we did have times we just couldn’t see eye to eye on things. She could be difficult and stubborn.

Detective Armstrong: What are your feelings about the malpractice suit?

Dr. James Mendoza: Of course, I’m not happy about the malpractice suit, but on advice from my lawyer, I’m not at liberty to discuss the case.

Detective Armstrong: Come on, Doc, you must have been very angry at Dr. Smith at the possibility of losing your practice.

Dr. James Mendoza: No! I wasn’t angry at Veronica. As I told you before, I’m not happy about the suit against us. Losing a patient is always tragic, but it was an accident. Besides we don’t plan on losing this case. I’m sorry, but I can’t discuss this anymore.

Detective Armstrong: How did Dr. Smith get along with the hospital staff?

Dr. James Mendoza: Ruthie Foreman, the head nurse, complained about her, but I don’t know any of the details. You’ll have to discuss that with her. I try and stay clear of things that don’t concern me.

Detective Armstrong: Did Dr. Smith and Dr. Burns get along?

Dr. James Mendoza: They seemed to get along OK at work. I wouldn’t know beyond that.

Detective Armstrong: How does he feel about the malpractice suit?

Dr. James Mendoza: Dr. Burns, like me, certainly has concerns about the malpractice suit, but you would have to ask him that question. I don’t mean to rush you but I need to get back to my patients. With Dr. Smith gone, we have a bigger caseload.

Detective Murphy: We understand. I think we’re finished for now. Thank you, Doctor. We’ll be in touch if we have any further questions.

Dr. James Mendoza: Good day, Detectives

Interview ended: 1:39 p.m.

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