National News

Man says he thought girlfriend was someone else when he slammed her head at strip club

Posted January 7, 2018 6:11 p.m. EST

CLEARWATER -- A Seffner man nearly killed his girlfriend on New Year's Eve, repeatedly slamming her head into the ground outside a strip club and later told deputies he thought he was fighting someone else.

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies arrested Sonny Mendoza, 32, and charged him with one count of aggravated battery. Kara Thobe, 35, was transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with life-threatening injuries. She was in critical condition Monday evening.

Thobe and Mendoza were at the Oz Gentlemen's Club after midnight Monday. The two were ordering food from a stand outside the club when two unidentified women left the club and exchanged words with the couple, detectives said.

The two women then went back into the club and returned with two unidentified men, and a fight broke out among the six of them around 1:15 a.m.

Surveillance video of the altercation showed Mendoza fighting with the two men. During the melee, Mendoza threw Thobe to the ground, where she hit her head. Mendoza was then seen repeatedly slamming Thobe's head into the cement until patrons at the club rushed out and restrained him, the Sheriff's Office said.

The other two men and two women fled the scene before deputies arrived.

In an interview with detectives, Mendoza said he mistakenly slammed Thobe into the ground thinking he was fighting with one of the men.

Anyone with information can contact Detective James Upton at (727) 582-6321.