Local News

Investigator: Garner couple's home 'littered with bullet holes' after murders

Posted August 21, 2015 1:23 p.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2015 4:43 p.m. EDT

— In the third day of testimony in the trial of a man charged with the mistaken-identity murder of a Garner couple, an investigator with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office described what he saw when he arrived at the grisly murder scene.

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 boy was not injured in the attack.

In testimony at the trial of Jonathan Santillan, one of two men charged with first-degree murder and first-degree burglary on Jan. 5, 2013, Investigator Ed Blomgren described the murder scene as one of the most horrific crime scenes he had seen in his career.

Blomgren said he was one of the first people to enter the home after the murders and noted that every wall was littered with bullet holes.

“As you walked through the door it appeared that someone had been firing with an automatic weapon. There were bullet holes pretty much sprayed everywhere,” he said.

Blomgren told the court Friday he was also part of a team that served a search warrant at the home on Montiseno Drive where Santillan was found with his uncle, Israel Vasquez, the other person charged in the case.

He testified that they found weapons hidden in the attic, including handguns and assault rifles and magazines with dozens of rounds of live ammunition.

Mario Urbina Gomez, the owner of the home where the weapons were found, also took the stand Friday morning.

Through an interpreter, he testified that he rented a portion of his property and that he did not know guns were kept at his home.

To wrap up the morning of testimony, the state called Agent Shayne Smithey of The Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification to the stand.

Smithey walked the jury through a 25-minute video and a 360-degree image of 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.

Due to scheduling conflicts, court was adjourned at about 1 p.m. Testimony is scheduled to continue Monday at 10 a.m.