Local News

Agent testifies Mendoza home was riddled with bullets

Posted August 24, 2015 1:19 p.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2015 5:47 p.m. EDT

— An agent with the Wake City-County Bureau of Identification returned to the stand Monday morning in the trial of a man charged with the mistaken-identity murder of a Garner couple more than two years ago.

Jonathan Santillan is one of two men charged with first-degree murder and first-degree burglary in the attack on Jan. 5, 2013.

According to court documents, Samuel and Maria Mendoza were 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 child was not injured in the attack.

Taking the stand Monday, CCBI agent Shayne Smithey said she estimated about 40 rounds were fired into the Mendoza's home.

Smithey spent a couple of hours walking the jury through what she saw when she first documented the scene and said bullets riddled almost every corner of the residence.

She testified that Jose Mendoza was sitting on the couch with a plate of food on his lap and a blanket wrapped around him when he was killed. His wife, Maria, was in the kitchen cooking near the stove.

CCBI investigator Michael Galloway echoed Smithey's testimony.

"It almost looked like a police raid," he said. "Like someone went in there with some type of experience and sought out different targets."

Adam Tanner, an investigator with the State Bureau of Investigation, took the stand late in the day to discuss the weapons and ammunition that were seized from the suspect's home. He said he fired shots from the weapons to make sure they were a match to what was found at the crime scene.

Investigators believe the shooting at the Mendoza home was a continuation of an earlier 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.

Isrrael Vasquez, Santillan's uncle, is the other person charged in the case.

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