Teen shooter sentenced in fatal Durham carjacking

jwise@newsobserver.comApril 10, 2014 

“He was everything to us. He was our brother, our father, our counselor, our friend,” Francisco Villatoro said, speaking in Spanish with a court interpreter.

JONATHAN ALEXANDER — jalexander@newsobserver.com

— The third teenager charged in a 2012 carjacking and murder in Durham was sentenced to 29 to 38 years in prison Thursday for shooting a man so he and two friends could steal his SUV.

Justino Navaretta Maya, 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Dec. 28, 2012, death of Johnny Danilo Villatoro, 35, the father of three.

Maya also pleaded guilty to robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.

As a condition of his plea bargain, Maya also pleaded guilty to a breaking and entering and larceny in Orange County. At the time Villatoro was killed, Maya was on pretrial release for those charges.

Maya answered questions from Superior Court Judge Elaine Bushfan in a quiet voice, showing no emotion.

Maya was accused of shooting Villatoro seven times, including shots fired from above when Villatoro was lying on his back, according to prosecutor Jim Dornfried.

One of the other teens, Diana Escobar, who was 14 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty in March to the same charges as Maya and could spend 10 to 13 years in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled in May.

The third suspect, 12 at the time of the killing, has already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in juvenile court. She is being held in a juvenile-detention facility until she is 21, he said. Police do not release the names of juvenile defendants.

According to Dornfried’s account, the 12-year-old was the instigator of the crime. About a week before Villatoro’s death, she had run away from home in Raleigh and came to stay in a Durham apartment on Channing Court in Bragtown, off North Roxboro Street.

There, she met Maya and the two became romantically involved, Dornfried said. On Dec. 28, they and Escobar discussed doing a drive-by shooting of an unspecified gang. Because they had no vehicle, they planned to carjack one and kill the driver.

They encountered Villatoro at a cellphone store where he had gone to pay his bill and asked him for a ride home. He agreed, and they directed him to a dark cul de sac where Maya, pulling a handgun a vacationing neighbor had left him for safekeeping, ordered Villatoro out of the car.

“It’s unclear what occurred,” Dornfried said, but it appears that Villatoro scuffled with the 12-year-old before he was shot and left lying on the street after Maya drove over his arm.

After returning to Channing Court, he said, Maya and Escobar were unwilling to go through with the drive-by shooting. The 12-year-old took the handgun and accidentally shot herself. Wounded, she called her mother, who called police, and the trio were quickly linked to Villatoro’s death.

Wise: 919-641-5895

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service