Local News

Teens accused of killing Garner couple get separate trials

Posted June 18, 2015 1:47 p.m. EDT

— Prosecutors have agreed to a defense request that the teens accused in a Garner couple's 2013 murders be tried separately.

In a hearing on Thursday, a judge set the start day for Jonathan Santillan's trial on Aug. 17. Isrrael Vasquez will be tried sometime in 2016.

Both men face multiple charges, including first-degree murder and first-degree burglary, for their roles in the Jan. 5, 2013, deaths of Samual 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.