By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — A Seattle man faces at least 25 years in prison for the July shooting death of a Mount Vernon teen who was missing for two months before his body was found in a shallow grave outside of Snohomish.
Edgar Omar Alejandre on Monday denied killing Fernando Mendoza, 18, but he acknowledged that a jury likely would convict him of first-degree murder while armed with a deadly weapon.
Alejandre, 20, is scheduled to be sentenced later this month in Snohomish County Superior Court. He faces up to 33 years in prison. Prosecutors agreed to recommend a 25-year sentence in exchange for the man’s guilty plea.
The slain teen’s family attended Monday’s hearing. Some members wore T-shirts adorned with Mendoza’s picture. They later circled around Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Janice Albert outside the courtroom, asking questions about what to expect at the sentencing.
Mendoza’s family last spoke with him on July 2. He told relatives that he was going to see Alejandre to settle a drug debt. Prosecutors allege that Alejandre and Victor Manuel Garcia, 19, planned to rob and kill Mendoza when they agreed to meet with him that day at a house north of Snohomish.
Garcia reportedly told detectives he knew something bad was going to happen. He allegedly admitted he and Alejandre purchased rubber gloves and bleach before the meeting. They also allegedly took a shotgun from the house and hid the weapon in a barn on the property, court papers said.
Alejandre is accused of shooting Mendoza as he walked toward the barn. He and Garcia then allegedly robbed him. Prosecutors say the two men dragged Mendoza’s body into the woods and left him there. They tried cleaning up blood that had pooled on the ground with bleach and a hose, court papers said. They abandoned Mendoza’s vehicle in a Marysville parking lot.
Mendoza’s remains were discovered two months later in the woods in the 16100 block of Dubuque Road. He’d been shot three times.
Detectives scoured the makeshift grave for evidence and a tracking team discovered drag patterns leading to the property line shared with a house in the 3200 block of 159th Drive SE. Alejandre was a frequent visitor there.
Detectives later found blood in Mendoza’s car. They also discovered a shotgun under a bed in the house.
Garcia remains charged with first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled for next month.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.