Second trial in Garner double murder begins

Israel Vasquez in court Sept. 15.
Israel Vasquez in court Sept. 15.


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The trial for a teen accused in a 2013 Garner double murder began Thursday in Raleigh.

This is the second trial associated with the January 2013 murders of Maria and Jose Mendoza. Deputies said the Mendozas were unintended victims of a gang dispute when they were murdered on in their home.

Authorities believe a high-ranking gang member used to the live at the residence and may have been the intended target.

Israel Vasquez, 19, is facing first-degree murder, conspiracy, and other charges in the Medonzas’ deaths.

Wake County deputy Raymond Brunner took the stand Thursday during the opening day of the trial.

“First thing I noticed was the amount of smoke or burning gun powder. It’s a very distinct smell,” said Brunner. “Such a small, small space, a large amount of fun fire in a short period of time does not allow that smoke to dissipate.”

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.

In 2015, Jonathan Santillan, Vasquez’s uncle, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in the murder.

RELATED: Santillan found guilty of murdering Garner couple

Documents show Jose Mendoza was shot 16 times in the head, chest and torso. Maria Mendoza 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.

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