Local News

Trial delayed for teens accused of killing Garner couple

Posted September 8, 2014 11:42 a.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2014 6:47 p.m. EDT

— The trial of two teenagers accused of killing a Garner couple last year has been delayed until next year after defense attorneys said Monday they're still reviewing evidence and waiting on the results of a mental-health evaluation for one of the teens.

Isrrael Vasquez, and Jonathan Santillan, both 17, were expected to go to trial Oct. 6 on multiple charges, including first-degree murder and first-degree burglary, for the Jan. 5, 2013, shooting 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, the night of Jan. 5, 2013, 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.

Santillan's attorney, Jeff Cutler, on Monday asked Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner to continue the trial, saying he's still going through a "voluminous" amount of evidence and awaiting the mental-health report, which was supposed to be returned in August.

Attorneys for both teens also objected to their clients being tried together.

Gessner delayed the trial until at least January and said he expects to set a new date at a December hearing. He also waited to rule on the issue of a joint trial.

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.