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Unrepentant Orchestrator of the Ambush That Killed Northwest Students Sent to Prison for Life

Jose Canales-Yanez sat in Montgomery County Circuit Court for most of Tuesday afternoon knowing it would probably be one of the few times he’d not be behind bars for the rest of his life. He wore a green state-issued jump-suit, with a white cross hanging around his neck. He smiled at someone in the courtroom when he first entered. He was relaxed and content.

His hair was shorter than in the mugshot Montgomery County Police distributed after his arrest. He was not handcuffed as he sat in the courtroom, so he could make the sign of the cross when Judge Circuit Court Judge David Boynton announced that he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole for the murder of Shadi Najjar, and again for the murder of Artem Ziberov.

Judge Boynton, who in January, found Canales-Yanez guilty of all eight counts of the indictment handed out the harshest possible sentence on every count.

Boynton found 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.

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 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 Fred