Mothers testify about Md. double murder that left their sons dead

Shadi Adi Najjar, 17, (left) and Artem S. Ziberov, 18, were fatally shot on the eve of their graduation from Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland. (Courtesy of NBC News)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — A trial for one of several men charged in the murder of a pair of high school students in Montgomery County, Maryland, began Tuesday with the mothers of both victims taking the stand.

Asking the mothers numerous questions about the social lives of the victims, prosecutors started laying out the events of June 5, 2017, when Shadi Najjar, 17, and Artem Ziberov, 18, were 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.

During her testimony, Yulia Tewelow, Ziberov’s mother, said her son had been making plans to sell extra tickets to the school’s graduation ceremony. Najjar’s mother, Cristina Najjar, reaffirmed the account and said her son had been working with Ziberov to do the same.

Prosecutors later presented the judge with a grisly piece of evidence — a bloodstained graduation ticket that the students had expected to sell to the alleged killers.

The man at the center of the trial, Jose Canales-Yanez, is one of four suspects facing murder charges in the case. Others arrested and charged include Edgar Garcia-Gaona, Roger Garcia and Rony Galicia.

Canales-Yanez has a bench trial, which means his fate will not be decided by a jury; the verdict will be in the hands of Circuit Court Judge David Boynton.

The trial is expected to last at least through late Wednesday.

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 have said that the crime appeared to have been revenge for a drug deal that went bad several months before the shooting between Najjar and Canales-Yanez’s girlfriend. Defense attorneys have argued that there is not enough evidence to link Canales-Yanez to the murders.

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