Children said to plan carjacking and murder
A 12-year-old girl, a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy wanted to do a drive-by shooting of some rivals, but their first problem was they didn't have a car to drive.
So they developed a plan to carjack someone, murder him and take his vehicle so they would have a car to drive during the drive-by shooting.
The first part of their plan worked. The 16-year-old-boy shot and killed a father of three who gave them a ride, and the trio left his body on the side of the road. Later, however, the 16-year-old handed the gun over to the 12-year-old, the supposed ringleader of their little gang, and she accidentally shot herself, which put an end to the second part of their plan - the drive-by shooting.
That's the story of what allegedly happened when Justino Navarette Maya, 16, and the two girls, whose names have not been released because of their ages, put their plan into place on the evening of Dec. 28, 2012.
Maya appeared in Durham County Criminal Superior Court Monday for a bond hearing, and Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried told the judge the facts of the case, based on statements the three defendants gave.
Maya is charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and giving a firearm to a minor. Because he was 16 when he allegedly committed the murder, he is not eligible for the death penalty.
Maya and the two girls agreed to murder someone and steal the person's car to use in a drive-by shooting, Dornfried told Superior Court Judge Reuben Young Monday morning.
The two girls attempted to stop some vehicles but were unsuccessful, so they walked to a mobile phone store where they saw Johnny Danilo Villatoro, 35, of Durham, there to pay his cell phone bill, Dornfried said.
The 14-year-old girl, who looked younger than her age, approached Villatoro and convinced him to give them a ride. Maya gave him directions to Firth Road, a dead-end street in a residential neighborhood in northern Durham, Dornfried said.
While they were in Villatoro's car, Maya and the girls began to argue about whether they should let Villatoro live. Maya told Villatoro to get out of the car and leave, but Villatoro and the 12-year-old began struggling, he said.
"Once he saw the altercation between the female and the victim, he started shooting," Dornfried said. "The victim was shot multiple times."
Villatoro fell out of the car and as his attackers drove away, they ran over his arm, Dornfried said.
From there they drove several blocks to apartments on Channing Avenue, just off North Roxboro Street, and Maya gave the 12-year-old the gun. She didn't know how to handle it, and she accidentally shot herself in the arm and the leg, Dornfried said.
That's when their plan started to unravel. When police arrived to check on the girl with the gunshot wounds, they looked in the car and saw blood inside of it, Dornfried said.
Each of the three gave statements to police telling them what happened with the man who gave them a ride, Dornfried said.
The victim had no record, was legally in the United States, was the father of two daughters and had just become a father of his third child, who was 3 months old when he died.
"The victim didn't appear to be doing anything wrong," Dornfried said. "He offered to help these three young people. That led to his murder."
Dornfried asked Maya's bond be set at $2 million.
Defense Attorney Fred J. Williams said the 12-year-old girl appeared to be the instigator of everything. Williams admitted it sounded a bit strange but "it was clearly her idea," he said.
Maya had no friends and felt compelled to participate, Williams said.
"They enticed him to do it," Williams said.
But Maya was reluctant to kill Villatoro, Williams said.
"After they took his car, he twice begged Mr. Villatoro to just get out of the car and leave because he didn't want to shoot him," Williams said.
"This young man has committed some terrible mistakes," Williams said about Maya, who sat next to him wearing standard orange jail garb. “He really does feel bad about killing Mr. Villatoro."
Maya previously lived in Orange County with his grandmother and received good grades in school. After he was charged with a breaking and entering in Orange County, his grandmother decided to move to Durham, Williams said.
Williams asked his bond be set at $250,000 to ensure his presence in court, adding that Maya was not a danger to the public. He's been cooperative with law enforcement, Williams said.
Villatoro's family, along with a number of his siblings, attended the hearing, and when the judge announced that he was setting the bond at $2 million, a female family member loudly said, "Yes!"