CROWN POINT | A Lake County jury found a Miller Beach man guilty of felony battery Friday in what had started out as an attempted murder case, prosecutors said.
Christopher Mendoza, 22, had been charged with attempted murder, attempted rape, criminal confinement, battery and strangulation in the beating of his on-again, off-again girlfriend.
Mendoza is scheduled to be sentenced May 29 in Lake Criminal Court.
During more than two hours of grilling Thursday by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Catherine Breitweiser-Hurst, Mendoza admitted repeatedly slapping the girl as the couple fought in his car the morning after a night of heavy drinking.
Mendoza testified some of the girl's injuries were inflicted when her head struck the dashboard during the struggle.
Testimony showed Mendoza discovered a text message on the girl's cellphone when the couple spent the night at a friend's house in Portage after Mendoza ran short of money for a motel.
The girl had asked Mendoza to retrieve her purse with the cellphone from Mendoza's car.
Mendoza admitted he checked the phone and found a message involving another man.
Breitweiser-Hurst sought to establish Mendoza flew into a rage that prompted a beating that left the girl with facial and head injuries and a broken finger.
While admitting to hitting the girl, Mendoza denied other accusations of attempting to rape the girl and holding her against her will in the basement of his mother's Miller Beach home in Gary.