WASHINGTON — A judge found a man guilty of murder in the 2017 “revenge killing” of two Montgomery County high school students on the eve of their graduation.
On Thursday, Jose Canales-Yanez was found guilty of eight counts, including two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, in the shooting death of Shadi Najjar, 17, and Artem Ziberov, 18. On June 5, 2017, the pair was gunned down in a parked car in Montgomery Village.
The teenagers had been set to graduate from Northwest High School in Germantown the following day.
The students were lured to the scene where they were supposed to be selling an extra ticket to their high school graduation, said said John McCarthy, Montgomery County state’s attorney. During the trial, prosecutors presented the judge with a grisly piece of evidence — a bloodstained graduation ticket.
Canales-Yanez is one of four suspects facing murder charges in the case. The judge in the case found that there were four shooters who used four different handguns, and that the students’ murder was a “revenge killing,” McCarthy said.
Najjar stole drugs from a woman who is now Canales-Yanez’s wife, he added.
“Knowing that is what gave fuel to what happened here, it’s what gave motivation to it,” McCarthy said of Canales-Yanez’s motive.
Canales-Yanez shot Najjar at “extremely close range,” McCarthy said.
Others arrested and charged include Edgar Garcia-Gaona, Roger Garcia and Rony Galicia.
On the night of the shooting, police officers discovered the bodies of Najjar and Ziberov in a blue Honda Civic with the lights on and engine still running along Gallery Court. Detectives said they recovered at least 30 shell casings at the scene.
Najjar, who was behind the wheel, had been shot four times. Ziberov had been hit 10 times in the passenger seat. Prosecutors said after the shooting, the suspects stole a cellphone and the graduation tickets.
McCarthy’s office could seek life without the possibility of parole at Canales-Yanez’s sentencing, which is set for March 28. He is being held without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center.
WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report from Montgomery County.
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