ROCKVILLE — A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge sentenced Jose Canales-Yanez, who a jury had convicted of first-degree murder of two Northwest High School students, to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Monday.
In January, a jury found Canales-Yanez guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Shadi Adi Najjar, 17, and Artem Ziberov, 18, both students at Northwest High School who were set to graduate the next day. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David A. Boynton sentenced Canales-Yanez to the maximum sentence under Maryland law – two separate life sentences without parole for each murder charge.
“This was a designed conspiracy to kill Shadi,” said State’s Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy.
Najjar and Ziberov were murdered in June 2017, a day before graduation in what Montgomery County Police called a setup revenge killing. In addition to Canales-Yanez, a grand jury has indicted Roger Garcia, Edgar Garcia-Gaona and Rony Alexander Galicia on murder charges for Najjar and Ziberov’s deaths.
According to police, on June 5, Najjar and Ziberov planned to meet Roger Garcia to sell him a ticket to Northwest High School’s graduation, which was to take place the next day.
Later that night police found Najjar and Ziberov suffering from multiple gunshot wounds inside a blue Honda Civic parked in the 8200 block of Gallery Court in Montgomery Village with .40 caliber shell casings around the vehicle. Najjar and Ziberov died on the scene before emergency service personnel could transport them to a hospital. A few days later the chief medical examiner ruled Najjar and Ziberov’s deaths as homicides.
According to police, a witness told them that Najjar was rumored to have committed a drug-related robbery in December or January. Manger said Najjar allegedly robbed Kara Yanez, the then-girlfriend and now wife of Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez, and that Najjar’s murder was retaliation for the robbery.
According to McCarthy, Ziberov just happened to be in the car at the time of the planned killing, and was not a target by Canales-Yanez or any of his co-defendants.
“The setup that brought these boys to this isolated neighborhood was a scam,” McCarthy said.
Adi Najjar, father of Shadi Najjar, said his family was satisfied with Boynton’s sentence.
“We are happy for the judge’s decision,” Adi Najjar said.