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Jurors witness volatile exchanges between Santillian, investigators in taped interview

Posted August 26, 2015
Updated August 27, 2015

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— On Wednesday, jurors in the trial of Jonathan Santillan saw the remainder of a videotaped interrogation conducted by Investigator Scott Barefoot and Chief Richard Johnson with the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Barefoot said Santillan, who is charged in the mistaken-identity murder of Jose and Maria Mendoza than two years ago, spent about eight hours at the sheriff's office not long after the attack on Jan. 5, 2013.

According to court documents, the Mendozas were at home with their 3-year-old son, at 708 Colonial Drive, when two 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 child was not injured in the attack.

Santillan and his uncle, Isrrael Vasquez, are both charged with murder in the case. They are being tried separately.

In the video, jurors heard Santillan continuously point the finger at someone else in the case.

Jurors also saw volatile exchanges during a heated conversation, laced with profanity, where Santillan repeatedly denied being on Colonial Drive the night of the murders.

Santillan stopped the interview several times after getting upset with investigators. The investigators left the room, and he banged on the door and asked them to come back.

Later in the interview, after hours of back and forth where investigators accused Santillan of lying, the suspect told them that Moises Reyes, who testified for the state Thursday and admitted to being the getaway driver, is the real killer.

Finally, investigators got frustrated and left the interview room despite screaming protests from Santillan that he was telling the truth.

Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Clay Nichols, a medical examiner, testified that the victims were shot a total of 23 times.

The jury finished their day by looking at physical evidence in the case, including Santillan's diary. Investigators said the suspect wrote about killing people, AK-47s and gangs.

Investigators believe the shooting at the Mendoza home was a continuation of a December 2012 gang fight but that the suspects had the wrong address for the man they were looking for and mistakenly killed the Mendozas.

The intended target of the gang had once lived in the home on Colonial Drive but had moved out and the Mendozas moved in, which led to the tragedy, according to investigators.

Santillan, who was 15 when the crime was committed, cannot face the death penalty because of his age.

The state rested its case Wednesday evening and closing arguments are expected Thursday.


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  • Jim Halbert Aug 27, 2015
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    First, I know many democrats that support the death penalty. Not every issue is a "my team verse your team" type of debate, this isn't a football game. Second, some people have a valid concern that the death penalty is sometimes used on the falsely accused. Can't deny it hasn't been. People just casually reading about this story on the internet are already yelling that this kid is guilty before the trial is over. It's that reason of people being so quick to yell 'guilty' in the same breath as 'execute them' that personally makes me hesitant to support the death penalty.

  • Wayne Boyd Aug 27, 2015
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    Johan, to a fellow conservative your comment rings true, but we live in a liberal society and these folks believe only gang members child molesters, drug crazed parents, convenience store robbers and planned parenthood should be the only ones who can impose the death penalty.

  • Nathan Brewer Aug 26, 2015
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    His name is misspelled in the title.