ME: Woman Attacked By Pit Bulls Died From Injuries

Emako Mendoza Was Readmitted To Hospital December 23, Died Christmas Eve

A 76-year-old Paradise Hills woman who lost an arm and part of a leg following a vicious mauling by her next-door neighbor's two female pit bulls died from those injuries, the San Diego Medical Examiner confirmed.

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After the autopsy was complete, the medical examiner determined that Emako Mendoza’s cause of death was “complications of dog bite injuries.”

Mendoza died Christmas Eve.

Mendoza was attacked in the backyard of her home after she went outside to get her morning newspaper. The two pit bulls got into the victim's yard through a gap in the fence.

Her left arm had to be amputated below the elbow and her left leg amputated below the knee. She was unconscious and could not breathe on her own following the attack.

On Tuesday, Mendoza's husband, James, told 10News, "I [completed] ramps all the way around the house for when she'd come home. She loved her garden and I wanted to make sure she could get to her garden."

The two pit bulls and their 3-week-old puppies were euthanized after the attack.

The dogs' owners, Alba Medina Cornelio and her daughter, Carla Ramirez Cornelio, were arrested June 29 and charged with two felony counts each of having a mischievous animal that causes serious bodily injury along with six misdemeanor charges that included owning a dangerous dog.

If convicted, each faces more than three years in prison.

"I thought she was going to pull through, really I did. Because she was so jolly and happy and always smiling," said James Mendoza. "Every day it's all she talked about. She wanted to come home, she wanted to come home."

The District Attorney's Office will now review the case for possible additional charges with a Feb. 8 trial date pending, said spokesman Steve Walker.

Prosecutor Makenzie Harvey alleged at an earlier hearing that the pair knew the dogs were dangerous because the same two got out of the yard and attacked a man walking his puppy on Christmas 2010.

Defense attorney Donovan Dunnion said the dogs were running from a swarm of bees at the time of Mendoza's attack.

Dunnion said Tuesday that he advised his clients of Mendoza's death and they are "devastated." He called the situation "horrible."

"She had her own regular bed, but I wanted her more comfortable like the hospital bed so I went out and bought this bed with a serving tray, bought the wheelchair and she didn't get to come home to use it," James Mendoza said.

Visitation for Emako Mendoza is scheduled Jan. 3 at the Chapel of the Roses in Bonita with funeral services the next day.

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