Deliberations begin in 2013 Wake County couple murder trial

WAKE COUNTY (WTVD) -- Deliberations began Thursday afternoon in the trial of a teenager charged with killing a Wake County couple in 2013.

Throughout the trial, a parade of witnesses have tried to paint Jonathan Santillan as a ruthless killer.

Click here to watch the trial live

Santillan, who was 15 at the time, is charged in connection with the deaths of Jose Samuel Flores Mendoza and Maria Saravia Mendoza, who were gunned down inside their house in the 700 block of Colonial Drive near Garner on Jan. 5, 2013.

Before the trial started Thursday, the judge denied a "suppression of evidence" motion, based on a composition book that the defense said contained handwriting that didn't match Santillan. The book was referenced during a video interview with investigators that was played for the jury this week.

Afterwards, closing arguments got underway with the prosecutor saying, "we are going to call it what it is - a cold blooded murder."

"This case has shocked us and horrified us ... What are we going to do about it," he said before resting just before noon.

The defense spent their entire closing pointing the finger at state's star witness, while asking for a not guilty verdict.

Moise Reyes told the jury last week that he drove Santillan and Israel Vasquez - who was 16 at the time and also charged - to the home where the Mendozas and their two young sons had moved when the teen's rival gang member moved out. The Mendozas' 3-year-old child was also in the home at the time of the killings, but was not hurt. The couple's older child was not at the house.

Reyes testified Santillan and Vasquez put on masks and gloves before they went into the home so they wouldn't be recognized or leave fingerprints.

But on cross-examination, Reyes' credibility came into question repeatedly when he admitted he initially told a number of lies to police. Defense attorney Jeff Cutler was at times obviously trying to make it appear to jurors that Reyes may have been one of the gunmen - not his client.

On the witness stand, several veteran investigators had called the crime scene - where a couple was killed in a case of mistaken identity - among the worst he's ever seen.

RELATED: Autopsy: Wife in Garner murders shot 7 times

"It's probably one of the most horrific scenes I've been on in my career in public service," Wake County Sheriff's Investigator Ed Blomgren said last week. "I've worked in EMS, fire, military, and now law enforcement. And it ranks right up there with one of the most horrific."

He also told jurors about ammunition he found at the home where Santillan was arrested. Blomgren said stamps on bullets had been scratched off - matching shell casings found at the duplex.

Santillan and Vasquez are charged with two counts of murder, felony conspiracy, first-degree burglary, possession of stolen property, and possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

Report a Typo

Related topics:
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.