In Case Involving Death Pact Standoff, Man Pleads Guilty in Fatal Shooting of Wife by Law Enforcement

joseph and mary mantynen

Photos courtesy of the Anderson Valley Advertiser

Press release from the Mendocino District Attorney’s Office:

A homicide case filed last December against defendant Joseph Charles Mantynen following a stand-off with law enforcement at a Ukiah motel was resolved this afternoon in Mendocino County Superior Court.

Defendant Joseph Charles Mantynen, age 32, of Hidden Valley, plead guilty to an amended count charging voluntary manslaughter, a felony; a count charging an assault with a firearm on a Mendocino County deputy sheriff, a felony; a count charging a separate assault with a firearm but on a Sonoma County deputy sheriff, a felony; and a count charging burglary in the first degree, a felony. The defendant also admitted that he had personally used a firearm in the commission of the conduct underlying the conviction for voluntary manslaughter.

Defendant Mantynen and an accomplice, his parolee wife, together burglarized the home of Mantynen’s grandmother in Sonoma County on Dec. 20. Investigators from the neighboring county tracked the couple to Ukiah and found them hiding out in a State Street motel on December 21st. Rather than surrender, Mantynen later confessed to interrogators that the couple had agreed to resist arrest and, if escape was not in the cards, to die together by means of “suicide by cop.”

During the early stages of the stand-off, Mantynen pointed his rifle at and threatened a Sonoma County deputy sheriff. In doing so, Mantynen committed what is known in the law as a provocative act that allowed for the use of deadly force by the threatened deputy. Fearing for his own safety and that of his team, the Sonoma County deputy discharged his firearm at Mantynen but the shot missed the provocateur.

The out-of-county law enforcement officers surrounding the motel room were quickly reinforced by the Ukiah Police Department, as well as the Sheriff’s special weapons and tactics unit. As the stand-off lengthened, Mantynen again pointed his rifle at and threatened law enforcement, this time a Mendocino County deputy sheriff. Apparently as part of the couple’s death plan, this act by Mantynen was provocative that allowed for the use of deadly force by the local deputy. Fearing for his own safety and that of others, the Mendocino County deputy discharged his firearm at Mantynen. That shot went through Mantynen’s bulky clothing, missing the defendant’s body, hitting the defendant’s wife, who was also participating in the stand-off and verbalizing death threats at law enforcement. After his wife was fatally hit and fell to the ground, Mantynen surrendered to the law enforcement presence.

Following his review of crime reports from the multiple agencies, the Mendocino County District Attorney elected to charge the defendant with being responsible for the death of his wife pursuant to the “provocative act” doctrine. This doctrine is a legal theory of homicide prosecution which applies when someone commits an act that provokes someone into killing someone else.

Pursuant to today’s resolution, as worked out by the defendant, his attorney, and District Attorney Eyster, Mantynen will be sentenced to a stipulated commitment on March 28 of 26 years, 4 months in state prison. Because of the violent characterization of the crimes involved, the good time/work time credits the defendant may earn in prison against his total sentence will be limited to 15%. The District Attorney also required that Mantynen waive all jail credits from the date of his arrest until the date of sentencing.

The prosecutor handling this matter will continue to be District Attorney David Eyster. The investigating law enforcement agencies are the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, the Ukiah Police Department, the California Department of Justice forensic laboratory, and the District Attorney’s own investigators. The judge who accepted today’s change of plea was Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke. Judge Behnke will formally sentence the defendant at 9 a.m. March 28 in Department H of the Ukiah courthouse.



  • Did the Sonoma sheriffs just happen to be in town? Curious.

    • It helps to read the article. “Investigators from the neighboring county (Sonoma) tracked the couple to Ukiah…”

    • I worked side by side with Joe for 1 1/2 years and knew him before his decline into this mess.

      He was a very kind, funny, and driven guy. While I knew him we tested fire alarm system all over the Las Vegas area. He worked long hrs., weekend with me and when all I wanted to do was get home and rest. He would go run after work. He was a fitness freak.

      He always told me that running was his release. ( sick run, sad run, happy run, stressed run run run.) 😂 we would always joke with each other at work to make the days bearable while we were testing systems, and as I would be filling out the report he would be behind where I was sitting just pestering me about something goofy. Then I would tell him to leave me alone and go do 100 push-ups or run around the block or something to get my attention back to business.

      He at that time was definitely not on drugs. We were randomly tested on an annual basis, and I am not a person that he would ever need to hide anything from. I considered him a good friend.

      However they got to this day of the incident, I would have never in a million years foresaw him in a situation like they got themselves in.

      I had moved from Las Vegas 6 years ago now, and crept up with him less and less as time went on.

      I first saw that he had left the company that him and I worked for, to work a wildlife ranger job. That made sense, he loved being outdoors and moving moving moving.

      Then he told me that he was buying a house. Things just kept looking up for him. I would see him on social media crossing the finish line of some long run not only the 26k but 50 or 100k runs.

      So I don’t keep up with social media as people do these days, so you forget about people sometimes. Weeks get away, even months.

      Then I reach out today to another coworker back in our old office today, (4 1/2 months after the fact) to hear of what happened.

      I was and still am floored. You just never know what friend or loved one could have came to these same results.

      Not so funny thing is? We tested fire alarm systems in prisons just northwest of Vegas. We spent days and weeks in prisons to keep them safe. Hmm.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is keep an eye on those you love. The devel is patient and does not care who you are.

      Forgive us Jesus

      • I went to fire camp for 4 months as my sentence for a DUI. July – October of 2016. And Joe was my crew leader. As I have never done labor work. I did however pass the pac test, then was put on Joe’s crew. He was the best boss out there of all the crew leaders. He was a very nice guy. It was very sad to hear this kind of thing. I think he has a daughter. And that just makes it even worse. I would have never thought Joe would have got caught up in drugs. His wife was at fire camp when I was that is how they met. He should have never got involved with an inmate. It happens more than people think. That being said I think his sentence is extremely long! I would have 5hought involuntary manslaughter would have been more appropriate. I pray for his daughter!

  • What a dick

  • Coward. Didnt keep his end of the promise.

  • Personally, the stand-off would have turned into a shoot-out if they shot my life.

  • This story (read it how clumsy it looks) looks like a crafted sloppy mop-up job by the police down there for killing a subject they ought not to have killed. I like how they added as an afterthought…”oh yeah, and the lady was being menacing too so that’s why we shot her…even though the shot that killed her went through the guy and into her by accident… mean on purpose because we were sure she was deadly to us with her mouth shouting insults…or something…”

    Meanwhile at court?: “Hey buddy, if you testify at trial that you and your woman had a “suicide by cop” pact and that your wife was acting threatening towards us, we’ll give you a reduced sentence”. That way it might not look like they killed more of a hostage than a perp woman. Helps that she’s “damaged goods” by being a parolee (also added 3rd grade story style as an afterthought in the narrative). Fits nicely with the narrative of her being threatening to police. Who knows? It’s their and the (potentially) reduced-sentence boyfriend’s word against a dead woman.

    • Here’s more on the story. “Mary Mantynen called her mother in Pahrump, Nevada, three times Dec. 21 while law enforcement surrounded the Ukiah motel room she was sharing that night with her husband Joseph Mantynen.

      The 23-year-old Las Vegas mother of two young sons and a stepdaughter left two messages before finally getting through to her mother, Lori Harvey, around 8 p.m.

      “She was crying hysterically and told me to say goodbye to her sons,” Harvey said. “The last thing I said to her was, ‘Don’t be silly, just turn yourself in.’”

      • OK. Well I stand corrected. But don’t you think that it’s odd that they said they meant to kill her but the shot that killed her went through the guy’s coat by accident? She may have been suicidal but may have changed her mind at the scene. It happens.

        I didn’t read that they said she was armed at the scene.

        • PLEASE return to your native planet.

        • Which of course means you shot off you pie hole without all the facts and information. Duh

          • Not quite. Because the story still suggests that they accidentally shot the woman but also meant to kill her because (after the fact, awkwardly added) she was also shouting death threats. Here’s the paragraph and you tell me if she was meant to be killed or if “shouting death threats” (while unarmed) at the police warranted her accidental, er, I mean “on purpose” death:

            “…That shot went through Mantynen’s bulky clothing, missing the defendant’s body, hitting the defendant’s wife, who was also participating in the stand-off and verbalizing death threats at law enforcement….After his wife was fatally hit and fell to the ground, Mantynen surrendered to the law enforcement presence…. “

            • There are a lot more worthy options for sympathy in this world rather than these dangerous folks who obviously had no care in the world for the safety of anyone around them.

        • many states, especially commonwealths, have a felony murder rule which broadens the definition of murder. in this case, even if she had changed her mind about death by cop, just standing with her husband causes her death to fall under the umbrella of his crimes and ‘foreseeable circumstances’ and he would be charged for her death.

  • They burglarized his grandma’s house then aimed weapons at armed officers. Gross. You think those police go home happy after something like this happens. I am amazed anyone wants to be in law enforcement, getting put down and blamed for people’s crap behavior. They get paid so little too. I teach my children to be respectful and remember these officers are trained and trained to respond to threatening situations. Don’t be a threat don’t act hostile, you do something wrong don’t expect someone else to pay your dues. How you gonna burglarize your own grandma man.

    • “They…aimed weapons at armed officers..” ??? All I read was that the woman was hit and killed accidentally while allegedly ONLY “shouting death threats” at officers.

  • Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P.

    This is why police need armored bulldozers, to save lives.

    The house could have been torn down and both captured if an armored bulldozer was on the scene.

    People buying marihuana permits should be made to purchase an armored bulldozer for their local law enforcement so everyone is kept safe.

    Each law enforcement branch should have several dozen armored bulldozers fueled up and ready to go at a moments notice. They are a valuable tool in enforcing law on law breakers.

  • Afraid for my Life

    Cops just cleaning up after they got trigger happy and killed a mother, wife, sister, daughter and life bringer. I wonder if she even had the option or choice to turn herself in, I heard there was questions as to why Sonoma Sheriffs had tracked her illegally into Mendocino, why not. 12 hour standoff and everyone come home alive, seems the cops just got tired, wanted to go home, and ended it in a bloodbath, we all know Mendo Cops are not very well trained , ruled by bullies and led by some questionable, Sargaents and Lieutenants…..

    • Bingo. Have you read my posts? It’s obvious the police are covering up for a victim they killed in the crossfire. For all we know, that woman was a Stockholm victim of the man, doing as he ordered her to do. She wasn’t armed so far as I can tell and unless the laws have changed, police can’t shoot a person (accidentally from a bullet that went through the jacket of their actual target and hit an unarmed victim) for just mouthing off.

  • Douche bag of the year!… You can’t back out of a death pact after your co-pacter eats lead…
    See if anybody makes a death pact with you again pal..

    I knew Romeo and you sir, are no Romeo…

    And another thing… If she’s anything at all like my wife,( hunh.). enjoy your time in prison dude, because when you do hit those pearly gates, ohh man!, she’s gonna be waiting, and she’s GONNA be pissed!!… You’ve got an eternal arse-chewing waiting on you bro…😬

  • Now that’s love.. ride or die love.

    I almost wanna attend the CR police academy just to see exactly what topics are covered and what lessons are learned.

  • Wayne the ayers

    I knew both of them actually I’m a girl who was sentenced to a 1-3 year sentence first a dui. I was sent to fire camp where Joe was the head of my crew. I was only thereason for 4 months before I was sent home to finish my sentence on house arrest. Mary was in prison with me. That’s how her and Joe met. He broke every rule and every law getting involved with her!!! I feel bad for the both of them. Very shocked cause he seemed so professional! Bullshit of a sentence! ! He should have got 15 years tops with Timeach served!!! Fucking cops!!!!

  • First off she wasnt just on parole,she wasnt just some druggy..she was a mother,a daughter,a sister and my bavy cousin…Mary was strong and wore her geart on her sleeve she was young and bad alot of pour choices,but hell who hasnt the only difference between everyone else and Mary is we had the chance to grow up we had the chance to become wiser and learn from our mistakes and well Mary doesnt get that chance and its damn sham because let me tell you all a little somthing True not asummed not guessing but 100percent hands down i know my baby cousin would of grown into one hell of a beautiful smart strong women.Mary was gell on wheels yes!!!Its a trait us Valentines all got including myself and im very proud of it may i add.She was smart as a whip,and stubborn as a shs was funny and real no filter i use to love the look in her eyes when her boys were around her it was so different then any other look id ever seen on face it was nice to see her have that ya no that one thing that makes everything else thats so fucked up go away for her it was her boys my boys my boys all the time lol i miss her so much.she was more then she gave herself credit for in this world more then anyone gave her credit for including myself.As for Joe i didnt no him but imma tell yall right now your wrong he loved mary more then mary loved herself he doesnt deserve to be in prison for her death his daughter doesnt deserve not to have her daddy hes a good man and a good husband and a good i said he loved her mire then she loved herself and babygirl i wish u knew how special u were here i wish u could if seen how loved you were before all of this im so sorry i wasnt there for i miss you so much baby cuz…i hope your finally at peace lord knows you deserve it.

  • I worked with him for a short time in Las Vegas. Was totally surprised by the choices and actions he took.

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