Suspect in Slayings of Two Teens Convicted of Murder

One of four men charged with killing two Maryland teens the night before their high school graduation was found guilty Thursday. 

Jose Canales-Yanez was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the deaths of 17-year-old Shadi Adi Najjar and 18-year-old Artem Ziberov.

Najjar and Ziberov were found shot to death on June 5 in a blue Honda Civic in Montgomery Village, the night before they were supposed to graduate from Northwest High School.

Police said Najjar had been shot four times and Ziberov 10 times. Amid the shattered window glass police found numerous shell casings, including some Glaser .40-caliber shells.

Investigators learned that Najjar was rumored to have committed a robbery in late 2016. They linked the rumor to a report filed by Canales-Yanez's then-girlfriend who told police on Dec. 14 that the passenger in a blue Honda Civic had grabbed her iPad and dragged her about 50 feet with the car. An informant told investigators Najjar was killed in revenge for that robbery, where prosecutors alledge Najjar also stole drugs.

According to police, the informant identified Canales-Yanez, Roger Garcia and Edgar Garcia-Gaona as suspects.

All three men were arrested in June and charged. Garcia and Garcia-Gaona are brothers, police said 

Last month, a fourth man was arrested and charged in the case. Rony Alexander Galicia, 25, of Germantown, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. 

Police said Galicia was arrested after investigators determined his DNA was found at the crime scene.

Just before Najjar died, he texted someone saying he was going to sell a graduation ticket to Roger Garcia, who was identified as a Northwest High School student, Montgomery County police Chief J. Thomas Manger said. 

"We're certainly working on the strong possibility that this was a ruse to get the two victims to that location," Manger said.

Shortly before the murder, the men searched Google for a song called "I Kill for My Family," prosecutors said. The judge said Canales-Yanez was inspired by the song and it gave insight to his mindset before the shooting.

Manger said a partial box of Glaser .40-caliber ammunition was found at Garcia-Gaona's house. He also said the suspects took Najjar's cellphone.

"I am glad they caught them and I hope they rot in hell," Najjar's father, Adi Najjar, told News4 after news of the arrests.

Ziberov's father, William Tewelow, said he didn't want anyone involved in his son's death to get away with it.

"The lesser in our society decided to snuff his life out," he said.

Ziberov was an Eagle Scout who planned to attend the University of Maryland.

"I put a lot of hope in him for his future," Tewelow said. "In fact, I'd like to say I think Artem could've solved many of the world's problems when he grew up."

The three other men involved are awaiting trial. Prosecutors say they are seeking a life sentence without parole for Canales-Yanez.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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