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Appeals court sends back case of youth convicted in 2 deaths

RALEIGH (AP) The case of a North Carolina youth convicted of killing a couple whom authorities called unintended victims of gang-related shootings is returning to trial court.

The state Court of Appeals ruled May 1 a second look is needed at the Wake County judge’s decision in the murder trial of Jonathan Santillan to allow a portion of interrogation by police as evidence. The three-judge panel says there wasn’t enough information to determine if it was appropriate to deny Santillan’s suppression motion.

Appeals judges also vacated Santillan’s life prison sentences for the 2013 deaths of Samuel Flores Mendoza and wife Maria Saravia Mendoza because the trial judge didn’t detail evidence about mitigating factors. Prosecutors contend shooters went to their home thinking a rival gang member lived there. Santillan was 15 at the time.

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