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Opening statements begin in Garner double murder trial

Posted August 18, 2015
Updated August 19, 2015

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— Opening statements began Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a man accused of killing a Garner couple in their home in 2013.

Jonathan Santillan is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree burglary in the Jan. 5, 2013, shooting deaths of Samuel Flores Mendoza and his wife, Maria Saravia Mendoza.

According to court documents, the couple was at home with their 3-year-old son, at 708 Colonial Drive, when the teens – wearing hair nets, masks and gloves – kicked in their door and shot them.

Jose Mendoza, 34, was shot 16 times in the head, chest and torso, and Maria Mendoza, 34, was shot seven times in the back, lower abdomen and legs. The boy was not injured in the attack.

Authorities have said the Mendozas were unintended victims of a dispute between two rival gangs and that the target had lived in the house in 2011 prior to the couple moving there.

Investigators found throughout the home dozens of shell casings from a .45 caliber handgun and a 7.62mm rifle, which helped them link the crime to Vasquez and Santillan, his nephew.

Court will resume Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. WRAL.com will stream the trial live. The trial is expected to last two weeks.


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