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Judge Finds First of Four Accused Killers Guilty in Northwest Killings

A Montgomery County Judge had found one of the four men charged in the horrific June murders of two Northwest High School students guilty.

Circuit Court Judge Boynton found Jose Canales-Yanez, 26, of Gaithersburg guilty on all eight counts held in the indictment, including the top two counts of Murder in the First Degree for the killing of Northwest High School seniors Shadi Najjar and Artem Ziberov as they sat in Najjar’s blue Honda Civic on Monday, June 5, 2017 on Gallery Court in Montgomery Village.

Canales-Yanez was also found guilty on two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder and four counts of the Use of Handgun in the Commission of a Felony, and Armed Robbery for the theft of Najjar’s cell phone and a graduation ticket. According to State’s Attorney John McCarthy Canales-Yanez will face a sentence of life without the possibility of parole at his March 28 sentencing hearing.

The victims Najjar and Ziberov were to join their classmates for graduation ceremonies the morning after their murders. Judge Boyton found that Canales-Yanez and three other men who are charged in this killing — but will be tried separately — conspired to kill Najjar and Ziberov by luring them with the intention of purchasing a ticket to the next morning’s graduation. The ticket, according to McCarthy was stolen at the time of the murders.

“These young men were lured to the East Village,” said McCarthy, “to a place called Gallery Court were they were supposed to be selling an extra ticket to the high school graduation which was scheduled to take place the next day. They did in fact take that ticket. Judge Boynton found that there were in-fact four shooters. Judge Boyton found, based on the ballistics in this case, that there were four different handguns. Judge Boyton found that Jose Canales-Yanez was the shooter who approached Mr. Najjar and shot Mr. Najjar at extremely close range leaving stippling marks on his face indicating the close range at which that killing took place.”

Stippling marks are made by particles of burning or unburned gunpowder which can become embedded in the skin or bounce off leaving an abrasion. The marks are called stippling marks.

The three other men charged with these murders are; Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 24, of the 100 block of Lamont Lane in Gaithersburg; Roger Garcia, 19, of the 19500 block of Frederick Road in Germantown; and Rony Alexander Galicia, 25, of the 19500 block of Frederick Road in Germantown.

The tragic tale of how two honor students end up shot dead as they sat in a car hours before they were to graduate high school in early June 2017 begins way back in December 2016. Montgomery County Police and prosecutors contend that the shooting of Najjar and Ziberov was retribution for a December 2016 theft of drugs in Germantown by Najjar.

Judge Boynton found that Najjar had stolen drugs from Canales’ girlfriend, Kara Yanez, during that incident in December 14, 2016 on 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 on the evening of June 5 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.

Investigators found and interviewed Roger Garcia at his residence. Roger Garcia claimed he did not know Najjar or Ziberov and did not purchase a graduation ticket from them.

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 gunshot