The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a murder conviction against a man charged in the killing of two Northwest High School graduates more than five years ago.
Shadi Ali Najjar, 17, and Artem Ziberov, 18, were shot to death while sitting in a parked car in Montgomery Village in June 2017, according to authorities. Police have said the victims, who were hours from graduating from the Germantown school, had planned to sell a graduation ticket to the four suspects who were charged in the deaths.
Following the shooting, Rony Galicia, Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez, Edgar Garcia-Gaona, and Gaona’s half-brother, Roger Garcia, were charged with murder. The four men were convicted on murder charges between 2018 and 2019.
Garcia, now 24, had appealed his case first to the Court of Special Appeals, questioning whether there is a valid legal foundation to convict a defendant of second-degree intent to kill murder as an accessory before the fact, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office. That court ultimately ruled that it is possible for an accessory to aid “on impulse and without premeditation” another person in the commission of a homicide with intent to kill.
After Garcia appealed the case again, the ruling was affirmed Thursday by the Court of Appeals, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Garcia will continue to serve his 100-year prison sentence, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Earlier this summer, the Court of Appeals had upheld the murder conviction against Galicia, after Galicia had appealed on the grounds that his attorneys were not given an opportunity to introduce select pieces of evidence during his trial.
State’s Attorney John McCarthy said in a statement Thursday that with the convictions of the four defendants having been upheld in the case, “justice is served by the court’s decision.”
“Though it will not bring the teenagers back, we hope this provides some relief for the families of Shadi Ali Najjar and Artem Ziberov. Our hearts remain with them today,” McCarthy said.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org