Ruling sends man back to prison in college student's slaying

ST. CHARLES, Ill. (AP) — A man convicted in the 1994 slaying of a suburban Chicago college student will spend more time in prison after a judge determined he was released four years too early due to a sentencing error.

Bonzell Joyner, 45, was taken back into custody Wednesday following a Kane County court hearing at which prosecutors argued he had been given too much credit for time served in jail.

Joyner was sentenced in 1998 to 60 years in prison in the killing of 19-year-old Armando Mendez. He was released on parole July 22, after serving less that 30 years, the Aurora Beacon-News reported.

Kane County Circuit Judge D.J. Tegeler ruled that Joyner was given nearly twice as much credit as he should have been given for time he served in jail between his 1994 arrest and his 1998 sentencing. Tegeler found that rather than the 3,002 days of credit Joyner was given, he should have received 1,502 days. He ordered Joyner back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said prosecutors discovered the error in Joyner’s sentencing more than four years ago and had been working through the court process to correct it when Joyner was released.

On Oct. 27, 1994, Mendez’s car ran out of gas as he was driving home after working a night shift at a Naperville Cracker Barrel. As he walked back to his car from a service station, a group of teens and young men mistook him for a rival gang member. They beat him and then he was fatally shot.

Joyner was convicted of shooting Mendez. Eight other men were convicted in the attack. Joyner is the only one who remains incarcerated.

Mendez, a recent Aurora Central Catholic graduate, had been studying at the College of DuPage and dreamed of one day becoming an architect.

His sister, Elsa Mendez-Ruiz, expressed thanks after Wednesday's ruling.

“It won’t make up for him not being in prison for life, but it was a little bit more of justice that we can have,” Mendez-Ruiz said. “... I can’t stress enough the pain caused when this error gave Joyner in the least bit a taste of undeserved freedom. My brother is gone for good — without deserving it.”