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Josue Mendoza-Melo pleaded no contest to attempted aggravated murder, criminal mistreatment in 2017 case.

FILE PHOTO - Josue Mendoza-Melo is appealing his sentence. His attorney argued that two counts he pleaded no contest to should have been combined. Another attorney filed an argument that he should not be required to pay restitution because of the legal definition of 'victim.'An attorney for Josue Mendoza-Melo, who pleaded no contest to attempted aggravated murder and first-degree criminal mistreatment, filed an appeal in the case last week.

Mendoza-Melo was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the November 2017 of then-2-year-old Ezra Thomas, the son of his girlfriend at the time.

Irene B. Taylor filed the motion claiming the two counts should have been merged.

The Office of Public Defense Services declined to comment on the case or who was representing Mendoza-Melo, but did say Taylor had recently retired.

The appeal is challenging the sentence, not the outcome of the trial, said Jennifer Lloyd, attorney in charge of criminal appeals for the appellate division of the Oregon Department of Justice.

"It could mean that he gets a slightly shorter sentence," she said, if he prevails.

On Dec. 2, his attorney in the original case, Laura Mozer, filed a document with court objecting to a request for restitution in the case.

The state of Oregon is seeking restitution on behalf of Medicare and the Oregon Health Plan, which covered Ezra's medical expenses.

Mozer argued that Ezra did not meet the legal definition of "victim" for purposes of restitution because he did not suffer financial damages. She said DHS, which is providing for Ezra's medical care, the insurance companies and Ezra's parents were not the victims of the crime and so did not qualify to receive restitution, either.

Mendoza-Melo is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 24 in an unrelated case, where he was indicted on June 9 on nine counts of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of first-degree sodomy.

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