Witness wins award for testifying against relative

Man convicted and serving life sentence for homeless beating

POSTED: 12:40 PM PST Feb 01, 2013    UPDATED: 12:55 PM PST Feb 01, 2013 
Patricia Lewis Witness of the Year Award

A Santa Barbara County woman has been awarded the Patricia Lewis Witness of the Year Award.

In 2006, a savage beating left a Santa Barbara homeless woman in a coma.

Stephanie Mendoza was recognized for her bravery by helping police secretly tape a relative as he confessed to torturing a homeless woman in Santa Barbara.

Mendoza's courage was again tested when she was asked to testify against the relative.

Samuel Martinez Jr. was convicted of torture and he is serving a life sentence in prison.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley said "Without the courage, strength and strong moral compass of Ms. Mendoza, this crime could have remained unsolved and justice would not have been served."