Prosecutors rested their case on Wednesday in the Jonathan Santillan trial, and closing arguments are expected Thursday.
Jurors who will decide the fate of Santillan, one of the teens accused of murdering a Garner couple in 2013, saw more video Wednesday from a police interview with the defendant.
Prosecutors contend Santillan is one of two teens who burst into the Colonial Drive home of Jose Samual Flores Mendoza and Maria Saravia Mendoza on Jan. 5, 2013, and let a spray of gunfire fly.
Jose Mendoza was sitting in front of the TV, wrapped in a blanket with a plate of food perched on him, when investigators found him dead with 16 gunshot wounds.
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Maria Mendoza was at the kitchen stove, cooking. She was shot seven times and found dead on the kitchen floor.
Prosecutors contend the shooting was gang-related and that Santillan and Israel Vasquez, the other teen charged with murder in the case, went to the home in search of a rival gang member they thought lived there.
What the shooters did not know, prosecutors argue, is the intended target had only lived at the Colonial Drive duplex briefly and the Mendozas, unrelated to any of them, had moved in.
The couple’s 3-year-old son was inside when the violence occurred, but left behind, physically unharmed.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney David Saacks played hours of a police interrogation video for jurors Tuesday.
Saacks played more videotape Wednesday. The later segments showed Santillan becoming more and more agitated as the hours passed inside the interview room. Much of the time he was inside by himself, pacing, sipping water, wrapped in a blanket.
Initially, investigators had some rapport with Santillan. They talked about his family life, what he did all day since he was not enrolled in school and what he knew about gang life. That demeanor changed and Santillan is seen cursing the investigators and shouting profanities.
Scott Barefoot, a Wake County investigator, said Tuesday that Santillan lied to him early in the interview. Santillan started out saying he knew nothing, but the longer he remained in the interview room, the more details he provided.
Santillan denied being on Colonial Drive the night of the shooting, but he told investigators at one point he might have heard something that could help them.
Santillan provided details about a gang fight in December 2012 that left one man pistol-whipped and shot in the foot. Prosecutors contend it was that fight that stemmed the retaliatory action that led to the mistaken killing of the Mendozas.
Toward the end of the videotaped interview, Santillan pointed a finger at Moises Reyes, a 21-year-old who testified last week. Reyes, whose brother was involved in the December fight, said he drove Santillan and Vasquez to the Colonial Drive duplex on Jan. 5, 2013, and waited in the truck while they went inside with a handgun and an assault rifle “to scare” who they thought were rival gang members.
In the taped interview with investigators, Santillan said Reyes was the killer.
Defense attorney Jeff Cutler said in his opening statement that Reyes is the only witness who puts Santillan at the scene. Cutler urged jurors to listen to the many different accounts that Reyes provided to police about the shooting. The account in which Reyes identified Santillan as one of the shooters, Cutler said, came after Reyes found out from investigators that Santillan had implicated him.
After brief testimony from Dr. Clay Nichols, the medical examiner who examined the victims, jurors spent the rest of Wednesday afternoon reviewing some of the physical evidence from the trial. On display were shell casings from the homicide scene and the gang fight in December. Prosecutors also provided a diary in which they contend Santillan wrote about AK-47s, gangs and killing people.