Santillan sentenced to life without parole in Garner double murder

Santillian in court earlier in the trial.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Jonathan Santillan has been sentenced to life in prison without parole Tuesday after he was found guilty of killing a Garner couple in their home in January 2013.

Police say Santillan, 18, and his 19-year-old uncle Isrrael Vasquez, who will have a separate trial at a later date, kicked in the door of a home at 708 Colonial Drive and shot and killed Jose and Maria Mendoza.

He was found guilty of first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon and first-degree burglary.

Tuesday, a judge sentenced Santillan to life in prison without parole.

Deputies say Maria and Jose Mendoza were unintended victims of a gang dispute when they were murdered on January 5th in their home. Authorities believe a high-ranking gang member used to the live at the residence and may have been the intended target.

Documents show that Jose Mendoza, 34, was shot 16 times in the head, chest and torso. Maria Mendoza, 34, was shot seven times in the back, lower abdomen and legs. One of the couple’s children, who was 3-years-old at the time, was unharmed in the shooting.

Neighbors say following the shooting, they found the child lying on his father’s chest and crying.

The other child, who was 12-years-old at the time, was staying at his uncle’s house the night of the shooting, according to witness testimony. Both children now stay with their aunt and uncle.

According to warrants, Vasquez used a .45mm caliber pistol, with an obliterated serial number, and a 7.62 mm military-type rifle which is believed to have been stolen.

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