Jose Canales-Yanes, and brothers Roger Garcia and Edgar Garcia-Gaona, the three men accused of killing Northwest High School seniors Shadi Najjar and Artem Ziberov, will be held in without bond.
Montgomery County Judge John Moffett reviewed each case as all three defendants appeared separately via live video link from the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville. Judge Moffet did not to grant bond in each case citing that the double murders involved “a fair amount of pre-determination and planning, was brutal, and carried out with a fair bit of overkill.” All three will remain in custody and are scheduled to be back in court for a preliminary hearing at 10:00 am on July 14.
Canales-Yanez, 25, of the 18400 block of Cape Jasmine Way in Gaithersburg, previously of 15824 Laughlin Lane in Silver Spring was the first appear before Judge Moffett. He was followed by Garcia-Gaona, 24, of 125 Lamont Lane in Gaithersburg and Roger Garcia, 19, of 19515 Frederick Road in Germantown.
Prosecutors asked the judge to hold all three men without bail based on a number of factors. The first being the highly violent and brutal nature of the crime and possible risk of flight. Prosecutors pointed that Canales-Yanez, who has a long history of criminal activity in Montgomery County, has failed to appear in court on five different occasions after being charged with crimes. According to charging documents, “Jose Canales-Yanez has a lengthy criminal history, to include domestic abuse, fleeing and eluding, traffic charges, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.”
Both Roger Garcia and Edgar Garcia-Gaona told Judge Moffett they are planning to hire private attorney’s to represent them in this case.
In court, States Attorney’s said that the Garcia brothers were apprehended in a vehicle preparing to flee the State of Maryland with a suitcase full of clothing on Saturday, June 17. When given the opportunity to address the judge, Garcia-Gaona began to speak about the suitcase and was quickly stopped from addressing specifics of the case by the Public Defender in the courtroom.
The only other statement from the alleged killers came at the end of Roger Garcia’s bond hearing when he said: “Thank you very much for your time” to Judge Moffett.
Police believe that Najjar and Ziberov were killed in retaliation for the theft of drugs and an Apple iPad which happened on Wednesday, December 14, 2016. Germantown Pulse has confirmed that the robbery took place at shortly before 4:38 pm near 19729 Crystal Rock Drive in Germantown.
According to charging documents, “An interview with Najjar’s girlfriend revealed he committed a drug-related robbery in December 2016, or January 2017, where it is rumored that he stole drugs from a female during a drug deal. It would be noted that multiple witnesses interviewed during the course of the investigation stated Najjar both sold and used marijuana.”
Charging documents indicate that Najjar sent a message to his girlfriend stating that he was planning to sell a graduation ticket to Roger Garcia. “This was the last communication Najjar had prior to his death,” said court documents.
Detectives developed that Roger Garcia’s brother, Edgar Garcia-Gaona, was shot on February 10, 2017, during a botched drug deal, also in Montgomery Village. Garcia-Gaona was reported to have been carrying a weapon and did exchange gunshots with his assailants.
That shooting took place in the 8500 block of Hawk Run Terrace at about 2:02 pm on Feb. 10 and left one man dead. In a press release at the time, MCPD said “Officers from the 6th District and Fire and Rescue personnel responded and located a male victim in the parking lot area of the neighborhood suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. The victim succumbed to his injuries at the scene. The homicide victim is being identified as Wassi Harron Raheem Young, age 20, of Vermont Avenue in Hyattsville.”
Later in that press release, police said, “During the investigation, detectives learned that a 23-year-old male had arrived at a local hospital with gunshot wounds. Investigators spoke with this male and determined that he was shot during the same incident in which the homicide victim, Young, was shot.”
Edgar Garcia-Gaona turned 24 on April 1, 2017. Manger did not say if police have plans to charge Garcia-Gaona with the murder of Wassi Harron Raheem Young.
The investigation into the February shooting on Hawk Run Terrace led detectives to Jose Canales-Yanez and his girlfriend/spouse Kara Francine Yanez. Jose Canales-Yanez who identified himself to police as a friend of Edgar Garcia-Gaona.
Police do not have any connection between the Hawk Run Terrance shootings and Najjar and Ziberov, however, that incident connected Roger Garcia (to whom Najjar told a friend that he was going to sell a graduation ticket too) and his Edgar Garcia-Gaona (one of the Hawk Run Terrace shooters). It also allowed police to connect Garcia-Gaona to Jose Canales-Yanez.
On December 14, 2016, Kara Yanez, filed a police report stating that she was the victim of a robbery. Charging documents for Roger Garcia state that, “The report indicated a blue Honda Civic approached Kara Yanez while she was walking and the front passenger grabbed her Apple iPad and dragged her body for approximately 50 feet.”
According to Police records obtained by Germantown Pulse, the December 14, 2016 robbery was originally dispatched as a Pedestrian Struck, in which a 20-year old female had been the victim of a hit-and-run and was then changed to a First-Degree Assault and Robbery call, and a lookout was given for a blue Honda Civic where an iPad was taken.
Detectives believe that the blue Honda Civic which dragged Kara Yanez and stole an iPad and drugs, was the same blue Honda Civic Najjar and Ziberov were found shot to death in on Gallery Court.
Once today’s bond hearing was over, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy addressed the media. He said he was happy with Judge Moffett’s decision to hold the three men without bond. McCarthy reiterated the prosecution’s positon saying the two brothers were preparing to flee the area when they were apprehended.
He also said police are continuing to work this case. “There is always more to be known. I will tell you that the police department, in this case, is already pursuing other information. I will tell you there will be more.”
Also in court today, was Najjar’s father, Adi Najjar. After the hearing, Adi Najjar addressed the media saying, “I want to thank all of you for coming. I am here just to make sure that those three guys were not going to get out on bond.”
He went on say that there was no proof that his son had anything to do with the initial robbery which police believe led to his death.
“There are no facts; there is no proof. Do not bad mouth my beautiful boy,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to hear on TV that my boy is a drug addict; my boy is a thief. My boy is a beautiful boy; we raised him right. We loved him. We still love him. He will be in our hearts forever and ever. I will come here to every court to make sure those people get justice. Until they rot in Hell.”
As he was leaving the microphones, he said, “I believe in my heart they [the killers] belong to a gang.”
All three defendants, Garcia, Garcia-Gaona, and Canales-Yanez, will be in court again on July 14, 2017, for a preliminary hearing in this case.
Top: Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy addressing the media after the bond hearing for three men accused of killing two Northwest High School students on the eve of their graduation.
Next: The three alleged killers Roger Garcia, Edgar Garcia-Gaona, and Jose Canales-Yanez. Photos courtesy MCPD.
Next: Adi Najjar, the father of murder victim Shadi Najjar, addresses the media after Monday morning’s bond hearing, with his wife holding a photo of their son.
Next: Police believe the murders were retaliation for a robbery in which Najjar allegedly stole drugs and an iPad from a girl back on Dec. 14, 2016, on Crystal Rock Drive in Germantown.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.